Democratic State of the States 2008: Mississippi

GOP stalwart Haley Barbour , the current two-term governor, is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. And GOP Sen. Thad Cochran is a shoo-in to win a sixth term in November. But Republican gains have not been as pervasive down-ballot. Childers’ win gave Democrats a 3-to-1 edge in the state’s House seats, and he appears to have at least a slight advantage for his re-election rematch with Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, whom he defeated 54 percent to 46 percent in the special election. Democrats also hold majorities in both state legislative chambers.

The year’s biggest test in Mississippi may turn out to be the state’s second Senate race this year, a highly competitive special-election contest between interim Republican incumbent Roger Wicker and Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, a former governor.

Wicker was appointed last December to succeed Republican Trent Lott , the former Senate majority leader who abandoned the remaining five years of his fourth term to establish a lobbying practice. Wicker, who in the process vacated the House seat that Childers went on to capture for the Democrats, easily won seven House terms with an image as a low-key and earnest lawmaker. But he has had just a short time to introduce himself to voters outside his home base. Musgrove, although he lost his 2003 re-election bid to Barbour, is well-known across the state.

The state’s one open-seat House race is in a Republican stronghold that runs from the east-central to southwestern portions of the state. Gregg Harper, a former county GOP chairman, is strongly favored to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Charles W. “Chip” Pickering Jr.