Dem Wins Deep South House Seat

Alabama Democrats considering their Congressional candidates’ chances in AL-02, AL-03, and AL-05 will be encouraged that Democrat Travis Childers won a special election for Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District ("one of the safest Republican areas in the nation") tonight over Republican Greg Davis.

Mississippi's 1st Congressional District in the northern part of the stateThe Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire earlier this afternoon:

A third loss for Republicans could be a bad omen for what’s to come in the fall, as the party is already fighting an uphill battle for control of the chamber. Democrats currently have a 235-199 majority. House Republicans’ campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, has already been vastly out-raised by their counterparts at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, making it much more difficult for Republicans to invest the resources necessary to put a significant number of House seats in play. Or as the DCCC put it, “The NRCC simply can’t get off defense if Republican districts President Bush won easily by more than 60 percent are in play.”

This race is also the second test (Louisiana was the first) of a Republican strategy to align local Democratic candidates with Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama in campaign ads and mailers.

Bush won the District in 2004 with 62% of the vote, and this is the third House seat Democrats have wrested from Republicans in special elections this year.

You can’t really say that the GOP left any bullets in the chamber:

Republicans have spared no resource to ensure victory in the First Congressional District, which was vacated by Rep. Roger Wicker in December after he was appointed to fill the Senate seat of former Sen. Trent Lott. Mr. Lott retired before the end of his term.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has spent more than $1.3 million in advertising and direct mail. Mr. Davis also has benefited from funding from outside Republican groups. Freedom’s Watch, a group working to elect Republicans to the House, has spent an additional $550,000 on advertising. The NRCC has sent staff to Mississippi to help boost Republican voter turnout, which will be critical to Mr. Davis’ chances.

Republicans have drawn on a long roster to campaign for Mr. Davis, including Gov. Haley Barbour, Sen. Thad Cochran, Mr. Lott, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Vice President Dick Cheney, who appeared Monday at an event with Mr. Davis.

An ABC News blog added, “President Bush, first lady Laura Bush and Sen. John McCain all recorded automated phone calls on Davis’ behalf.”

Politico’s perspective:

A GOP House leadership aide told Politico last week that “if we don’t win in Mississippi, I think you are going to see a lot of people running around here looking for windows to jump out of.”

The $1.27 million that the NRCC spent in the heavily Republican district amounted to nearly 20 percent of the committee’s entire cash-on-hand. The committee has now spent more than $3 million to defend three conservative House seats, losing all three of them, and it is ill-equipped financially to compete fully in an ever-widening playing field for November.

Childers’ victory means that three of Mississippi’s four Representatives in the U.S. House are now Democratic.

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16 comments to Dem Wins Deep South House Seat

  • SamfordDem

    This proves what I’ve been saying all along. Obama is a transformative candidate that can give Dems a better chance to win in all 50 states, but especially in the Deep South. Some think these candidates will have a tougher time among white yellow dogs in November with Obama at the top of the ticket, but he will also likely boost black voter turnout to levels never before seen in American history. Wright was an effective issue for a couple of weeks but Republicans ran it into the ground and, in the process, revealed how they had little else to run on.

    These results should be encouraging to Parker Griffith, Bobby Bright, and Josh Segall, all of whom are will likely see a boost from the DCCC.

  • walt moffett

    Obama may find the newly elected Southern Democrats have more disagreements than agreement with his agenda. Childers and Davis differed only on Iraq, tax cuts and trade, they had identical conservative social agendas.

    Either way, the next few years will be spent in the wilderness for the GOP.

  • yeah, but...

    I think Obama will do just fine with a majority which agrees “only on Iraq, tax cuts and trade.” The only element of a social agenda which I see President Obama pursuing would be ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and at this point that’s more a practical measure than anything else.

  • yeah, but...

    And I’m not really worried about white yellow dogs coming home down ballot, especially in this climate, despite any distaste they might have for Obama.

  • SamfordDem

    I agree, Obama appears smart enough that he’ll avoid third-rail issues like partial birth abortion, the death penalty, and gun control. Don’t ask don’t tell will probably be repealed if he’s elected, but I don’t see him doing much else on that front, either. The best things Dems could do is to focus on the economy, infrastructure, and foreign policy. The New GI Bill is a great place to start; Obama and Clinton need to singing about this thing from the rafters. It a great bill and a common sense proposal most Americans will line up behind.

  • Regarding comment #2: A difference “only on Iraq, tax cuts and trade” is a pretty damned big difference. Those are in fact important issues that affect people’s lives. Democrats are right on those issues and the voters know it and are no longer being distracted by right wing emotional wedge issues. Social conservatives have been voting for pro-life candidates since Reagan — what do they have to show for it? American jobs sent overseas, falling real wages for most of us, record debt and a mismanaged, ill-considered war in the Middle East.

    It’s about time to stop trying to legislate morals and focus on taking care of the country’s business.

  • [...] AL-02 Democratic candidate Bobby Bright raised $75k at a fundraiser last week for his Congressional campaign, according to a source close to the campaign. The event had no host committee and was put together by developer Jerry Kyser and Greg Allen of Beasley Allen. If Bright is dreaming of pulling off what Travis Childers did last night in Mississippi, he’ll need more successes like this. His first quarter fundraising #’s were anemic, though he probably will not face a strong primary challenge from state NOW President Cheryl Sabel or Dentist Cendie Crawley. [...]

  • walt moffett

    As always amusing to see talking points and reflexive posting.

    Samford Dem, Agree with you in #5, he will have to move to the center and a new GI Bill would be a good start and maybe a revamped Pell Grant program. Card check for the unions would also be a good step to keep the base happy (which will send the ASEA into a tail spin). His main problem will be managing expectations but that’s a problem all elected candidates face.

  • They won because they are Pro-Life no tax democrats…MSM forgets to mention that…

  • The Sandman

    BoobyBear has hit the nail on the head – the reason these Democrats are winning Congressional seats is because they’ve co-opted a lot of conservative ideas from the Republicans. Now, once these freshmen get to Washington and realize they can’t bring home any bacon unless they go along with their liberal/socialist leaders (and liberal/socialist President, if Obama is elected), that’s when things will get dicey. And don’t tell me it can’t happen – Clinton made the same mistake and two years after he was elected his liberal agenda brought down both the House and Senate. If it can happen to Clinton, who is a really bright guy, it can happen to Obama, who isn’t. Mark my words – the overwhelming victories of the Democrats in 2008 will be forgotten by the backlash of 2010, provided the Republicans get their act together and start articulating conservative principles again.

  • Anonymous

    What are the conservative principles that you think the GOP can articulate? Fiscal responsibility? The biggest deficits in the nation’s history can be attributed to the two Bush administrations. The nation has learned that the GOP’s idea of conservative principles is to merely give everything to the wealthy and screw the common man. It’s finally coming home to the GOP, and they will pay the price.

  • SamfordDem

    I agree that the GOP might get some of their groove back when the start actually articulating conservative principles. Unfortunately, their party is now dominated by neo-conservatives who care nothing for the constitution or fiscal responsiblity. These Democratic candidates won because they are standing up to the stupid crap Republicans have been doing since the neo-cons took over and because they advocated common sense reforms that all Americans can benefit from.

    I’ll be the first one calling for a shift in my own party if Obama and co start advocating radically liberal social policies at the expense of common sense legislation like the New GI Bill and a phased redeployment from Iraq but I think Sen. Obama is a lot smarter than that.

    By the way, Sandy, Obama was able to beat a national political machine that Bill the “bright guy” (who I do believe was a great president most of the time) had been building over the past three decades. In terms of fundraising, endorsements, organization, and polling, Hillary Clinton was arguably the strongest non-incumbent presidential candidate in modern American history as she entered the Democratic primary.

    Obama, a one term US Senator whose middle and last names happened to sound exactly those of America’s greatest enemies, was able to defeat her. Not to mention his Presidency of the Harvard Law Review and a scholarship to one of the top prep schools in the nation. Disagree with his policies if you must, but if that doesn’t equal bright for you, you need to go out and buy one of those grossly offensive Curious George ’08 shirts.

  • The Sandman

    Anonymous –

    I totally agree that the Republicans have been fiscally irresponsible. I believe that is a big reason they’re getting their tails kicked all across this country. The day that Republicans start acting like true conservatives in regards to fiscal policy is the day they start winning elections again.

    SamfordDem –

    I think that you give Obama too much credit with regard to implementing a leftist agenda if he is elected; he isn’t called the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate for nothing. Also, you give him too much credit for beating Hillary. Yes she had the money and endorsements, but she is also one of the most polarizing political figures of our time. It didn’t take a whole lot other than charisma to beat her.

    By the way, I also happen to think that those stupid Curious George shirts are racist, and I resent your implication that if I find exception with Obama that I ought to buy one. Just because I disagree with the man doesn’t make me a racist, and if the Democratic Party tries to use that type of logic in the Fall it will blow up in their faces.

  • SamfordDem

    As I said, disagreeing with him is fine. There are elements of his platform that I don’t wholly agree with, but you claimed Obama was not intelligent, which is absolutely ridiculous.

  • The Sandman

    SamfordDem -

    Look, when I said Obama wasn’t bright, I was not commenting on the man’s intellect. I was commenting on his political savvy. In that context, I’m sorry, I think the man is a lightweight. He has a lot of charisma, but if you look beyond that to his views on the issues, he comes off as naïve at best. I never thought I would ever agree with Hillary Clinton on anything, but she’s right – I wouldn’t want Obama getting the 3 A.M. phone call; he’s just not experienced enough.

    Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was a masterful politician. Love him or loathe him (there are very few in between), he always gave the appearance of being on the right side of every issue. Yet even he (and that’s the point I was trying to make) made the tactical error that he was elected because people had bought into the liberal agenda. Clinton won in 1992 mainly because people were mad at George Bush the Senior for breaking his “no new taxes” pledge (and having Ross Perot siphoning off 19 percent of the vote didn’t hurt either), not because they wanted their taxes raised and wanted federalized health care. When Clinton moved to enact these unpopular policies, it led to the bloodbath of 1994.

    Fast forward fourteen years, and you have a very similar scenario. People are again mad at a George Bush, this time the Junior. But they’re mad at him because he’s not holding the line on federal spending and because gas is $4 a gallon. They are not mad at him because they are ready for Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and company to implement a liberal agenda. Barack Obama needs to understand this, or whatever gains the Democrats make in 2008 will be overturned in the backlash that will come in 2010. I just don’t believe that Obama, due to his inexperience, is bright enough POLITICALLY to realize this, especially considering that Bill Clinton, who is a very bright POLITICIAN, didn’t realize it either.

  • [...] I find this interesting. The early signs are that Republicans who are trying to link their Democratic opponents to national figures like Obama and Pelosi are not having success. The reasoning here, I suppose, is that in the primary you are trying to stir up your core support. Still interesting. [...]

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