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.
The 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.”
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.