Childers Wins Mississippi House Special

Posted May 14, 2008 at 12:00am

In what is sure to be a devastating blow to GOP morale heading into the November general election, Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers (D) defeated Southaven Mayor Greg Davis (R) on Tuesday night in the special election runoff in northern Mississippi’s once solidly Republican 1st district. The victory not only hands Democrats their second special election victory in the South in less than two weeks but also gives the growing Democratic majority all the momentum this cycle after picking up three Republican seats in special elections for the first time in more than 30 years. Childers’ victory “has sent a political thunderbolt across America tonight,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said in a statement. “It is yet another rejection of the House Republican agenda, the Bush Administration’s misguided policies, and John McCain’s campaign for a third Bush term.” With 99 percent of precincts reporting, The Associated Press has called the race for Childers, who leads Davis 54 percent to 46 percent. The results left Republican leaders picking up the pieces to what has been a disastrous series of special elections. Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a statement late Tuesday night calling the results of the Mississippi contest “a wake-up call” to Republican candidates across the country. “As I’ve said before, this is a change election, and if we want Americans to vote for us we have to convince them that we can fix Washington,” Boehner said. “Our presidential nominee, Senator McCain, is an agent of change; candidates who hope to succeed must show that they’re willing and able to join McCain in a leading movement for reform.” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) said in a statement that the Mississippi results highlight two significant challenges for Republican candidates in November. “First, Republicans must be prepared to campaign against Democrat challengers who are running as conservatives, even as they try to join a liberal Democrat majority,” Cole said. “Second, the political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general. Therefore, Republicans must undertake bold efforts to define a forward looking agenda that offers the kind of positive change voters are looking for.” The runoff race, which over the course of the past three weeks had turned particularly nasty with charges of race baiting being raised on both sides, drew tens of thousands of new voters to the polls Tuesday. The first special election ballot was held three weeks ago, and in that contest, Childers led by 3 points and came within 410 votes of locking up the seat outright. Childers and Davis will square off again in the November general election. Unlike the special election contest, the candidates’ party affiliations will appear next to their names on the November ballot – a possible advantage for the Republican. – John McArdle