Health-vote stakes high for Childers

Mississippi’s other two delegates to the House, Rep. Travis Childers of District 1 and Rep. Gene Taylor of District 4, both Democrats, are different. The generic label applied to them is “blue dogs,” members of a coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats who will, on occasion, invite the displeasure of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., by voting with Republicans. Childers and Taylor, for example, both voted against cap and trade.

Both blue dogs from Mississippi are on record opposing the health reform bill expected to be voted on in the House after the recess. They come to that position differently.

Taylor, in the House for 20 years, is his own man. He always has been, and his constituents like it. He’s known for weighing legislation and casting his vote independently. His position on health care is pretty straightforward: Given the size of the federal deficit, he says now’s not the time to strap on up to $1 trillion in new debt. So that’s that.

Childers, like Harper, is a newbie. Further, he was something of a surprise winner in May 2008 special election voting after former Rep. Roger Wicker, a Republican, moved to the Senate. Childers is on record both ways. He opposes the pending House bill, but says he hopes he will ultimately be able to vote on a health reform bill he can support.

Childers needs the support of the Democratic Party if he expects to win re-election in 2010 because Republicans are sure to mount an all-out effort to reclaim the seat. But he well knows most of his constituents are conservative.

Voting day on health reform will not make or break the political careers of Thompson, Harper or Taylor. Childers, however, who less than two years ago was filing deeds as chancery clerk of Prentiss County, is in the hottest of hot seats — and it could get hotter.

Not just his political future, but the future of health care services in America could well be on the line with a single vote, and it could be the vote of Travis Childers.

Greenwood Common-Wealth