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News: Updated May 11

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News from the Votemaster

Today's the big day: MS-01 votes. This is the third special election for a House seat this year in which a Democrat might win a district that is highly Republican and has been occupied for a Republican for years. This was Roger Wicker's old seat until Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour appointed him to fill Trent Lott's seat in the Senate. There was a special election on April 22 and neither the Democratic candidate, Travis Childers (Chill-ders) nor the Republican candidate, Greg Davis, got the required 50% so there is a runoff today without any minor candidates this time. Last time Childers got 49.6% and Davis got 46.3%. Both the DCCC and NRCC are pouring money into this race like there is no tomorrow. After Democratic victories earlier this year in two R+7 districts, IL-14 and LA-06, a third straight loss for the GOP will be hugely demoralizing. This is an R+10 district that should be a piece of cake for the Republicans, yet Childers came within 410 votes of winning it outright 3 weeks ago. Davis strategy is to say that Childers is a liberal and closely associated with Barack Obama. In reality, Childers is pro-life and pro-gun and has never met Obama. The strategy of trying to tie Democratic House candidates was tried in LA-06 in which Woody Jenkins (R) tried to tar Don Cazayoux (D) as a great friend of Barack Obama. It didn't work. Cazayoux won. We'll know tomorrow if it worked the second time around.

MS-01 is somewhat different than LA-06 in that it is (1) Mississippi not Louisiana, (2) more rural than LA-06, and (3) has fewer black voters. In retrospect, Jenkins constant harping that Cazayoux is like Obama may have encouraged many blacks go to vote--for Cazayoux (who is white). There is also a geographical factor in MS-01. Childers is a court official in Prentiss County, in the eastern part of the district. Davis is mayor of Southaven, a Memphis suburb in the western part of the district. Part of Childers pitch is "we need someone to represent Mississippi, not Tenness.e, in Congress." Still, Childers is a populist Democrat and a victory by a Democrat in three straight contested special elections will be seen as the handwriting on the wall for November.

Yesterday, the Memphis Commercial Appeal endorsed Childers rather than the local guy, Davis. They felt that Childers will hit the ground running, by which they mean House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reserved a seat on the agriculture committee for Childers, something Davis won't get. This is a situation where being in the majority matters. With Democrat Pelosi assigning new members to committees, she can help Democratic candidates by promising them seats on committees important to their districts. Republicans are likely to be placed on committees of no use to them. That's politics and both parties do it, only now the Democrats control the House.

-- The Votemaster