Photo Finish in the 1st. The 1st District Republican contest was effectively a contest between the two front-runners: McCullough, who along with his former post as mayor of the district’s largest city is a former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Davis, mayor of the district’s second-largest community. McCullough received 39 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Davis with nearly all of the votes counted, according to the Associated Press.
The third Republican candidate, ophthalmologist Randy Russell, took a respectable 24 percent, enough to deprive either of the other candidates an outright majority, but was never able to escape his underdog status.
The runoff contenders will likely continue the aggressive battle they waged during the primary campaign. Both McCullough and Davis ran negative ads against one another. McCullough accused Davis of not being a “true conservative,” while Davis accused McCullough of failing in his duties on the TVA board while personally benefitting from that presidentially appointed position.
McCullough and Davis also will continue touting their conservative credentials, and their focus on the local economy.
The Republican nominee will be heavily favored to win the seat in November. CQ Politics rates the 1st District as Safe Republican. Although Democrats controlled the seat for more than a century, Republicans won control with Wicker’s first victory in 1994 and have since strengthened their hold on the district, as they have in much of the formerly Democratic-dominated South.
Voters in the 1st District supported Republican Gov. Haley Barbour’s 2007 re-election bid with about 58 percent of the vote, nearly identical to his statewide share. In 2004, 1st District voters gave President Bush 62 percent of their support in his re-election contest.