The Clarion-Ledger, 3/26/8

Mississippi voters are in the unusual position this year of choosing a new U.S. senator and two new U.S. representatives. Given the penchant of state voters for rewarding their federal officials with long, often lifetime tenures, these campaigns are important to voters of all stripes.

Most prognosticators are predicting a light turnout in the second primary. Given how seldom congressional seats are open in Mississippi, that’s a crying shame.

It’s unlikely that longtime incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Oxford, or U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton, or Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, won’t be re-elected with substantial majorities. Cochran’s seniority and rank on the Senate Appropriations Committee is vital to the state’s immediate future and both Thompson and Taylor have been on Capitol Hill long enough to earn valuable seniority and committee assignments themselves.

Thompson chairs the House Homeland Security Committee while Taylor chairs a key House Armed Services subcommittee.

But in the state’s 1st and 3rd congressional districts, voters will choose new representation. The 1st District, which remains competitive from a partisan standpoint, features hot races on both sides of the political fence.