Republicans Blast Late DCCC Mailer in Miss.

Posted May 13, 2008 at 12:48pm

As voters head to the polls in a crucial special House election in Mississippi today, a last-minute mailer from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has Republicans crying foul in a race that was already very nasty.

The DCCC mailer, which Republicans say targeted black voters in the district, accuses Republican nominee Greg Davis of wanting to honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who is considered to be the the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, with a statue in Southaven, the suburban community where he serves as mayor.

The mailer calls the incident “a moral outrage” and says: “Now Greg Davis wants to go to Congress. It’s up to us to stop him.”

Davis spokesman Ted Prill called the mailer “11th-hour gutter politics” and said Davis never supported bringing a statue of Forrest to Southaven.

The race between Davis and Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers (D) has become a major battle with huge implications for both parties. The northern Mississippi 1st district has been a Republican stronghold for more than a decade, but Democrats have a very good chance of winning the seat today — just weeks after capturing GOP-held seats in special elections in Louisiana and Illinois.

Whether the late DCCC mailer makes a difference in the outcome — by mobilizing blacks to vote against Davis — remains to be seen. But in the debate over the flier, both parties insist that they are on the moral high ground.

Prill said that three years ago, when Memphis officials were trying to remove the statues of Forrest and Confederate President Jefferson Davis from city parks, Greg Davis offered to take only the statue of Jefferson Davis and put it in Southaven, a suburb of Memphis.

He said Davis never indicated he would accept the Forrest statue.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Davis camp and the DCCC pointed to conflicting news stories from Memphis papers in late July 2005 to support their arguments about exactly which statues Davis had agreed to accept.

“The flier is factual, a part of the public record, and has been in the press many times — voters deserve to know Davis’ record,” said Jennifer Crider, communications director for the DCCC.

The National Republican Congressional Committee said the flier was based on false information and called the timing and targeting of the mailer “despicable.”

“False accusations and race-baiting politics have no place in our public discourse, and if Democrats want to continue to pursue this line of attack, then it will backfire in November,” NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said.

Childers spokesman Terry Cassreino said the campaign knew nothing of the DCCC mailer.

“We’re just focused today on reminding as many voters as possible to get out and vote,” Cassreino said.