JACKSON – While the campaigns of longtime U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and his challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, have been engaged in a political slugfest as they vie to win the June 3 Republican primary, Travis Childers is almost like the forgotten man.
But Childers, who previously served in the U.S. House representing the 1st District and before then was elected chancery clerk of Prentiss County five times, says he is not concerned about that right now.
The Prentiss County businessman says he is moving about the state, talking with different groups and lining up support for the much more subdued June 3 Democratic primary.
“We are concentrating in areas where there are Democratic votes,” said Childers, who conceded that outside of his native north Mississippi his name identification is low. “As I have said many times, you can’t touch second base until you put your foot on first. I consider winning the Democratic primary first base.
“I have never taken votes or voters for granted. I have been in public service for more than 20 years, and I have never taken votes for granted.”
McDaniel and Cochran and their supporters have been spending hundreds of thousand of dollars throwing haymakers at each other in a contentious Republican primary. Thomas Carey of Hernando also will be on the Republican ballot for Senate.
Three other candidates are on the Democratic ballot against Childers. William “Bill” Marcy of Vicksburg has run twice unsuccessfully as a Republican against Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of the 2nd District. Marcy is trying to maintain his Tea Party ties while switching to the Democratic primary to vie in the statewide race for Senate.
The other two Democrats are Jonathan Rawl of Oxford and William Bond Compton Jr. of Meridian.
Childers is remaining relatively low-key while McDaniel and Cochran do damage to each other. But Childers said he would be running radio advertisements in the coming days to remind Democrats there is a primary and one of the candidates has actually served in Congress.
On March when Childers filed qualifying payers, Rickey Cole, chair of the state Democratic Party, made it clear that party allegiance was with the former congressman when he said, “Every Democrat I know is for Travis Childers.”
The problem, of course, is not getting Democrats to be for Childers, but prevailing in the November general election with a Mississippi electorate that has become solidly Republican in statewide races.
Childers said he expects to be vilified by his general election opponent because of his party affiliation. He said he expects to see advertisements where his face morphs into President Barack Obama, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi or some other national Democratic figure who is unpopular with Mississippi voters, just as occurred in 2010 when as the incumbent he lost the 1st District congressional seat to Republican Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo.
“It is the same old canned stuff people are tired of,” Childers said. As almost an afterthought, Childers said, “People who voted against me really think (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner has made their lives better?”
He said the lack of good jobs is still an issue in Mississippi and that will be his focus on Washington.
Childers said he wants to talk about issues and hopes the personal attacks that have dominated the Republican primary do not resurface in the general election.
“I grew up in family that always believed you did not have to tear anybody else down to build yourself up,” he said. “ . …At the end of the day, people are interested in their family and their community and what you can do to move families, communities, towns forward.”
Childers is probably closer to the Republican Party on social issues, such as being anti-abortion rights and pro-gun rights. He also voted against the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – while in the U.S. House, though he identifies the need for better health care access as important for Mississippians.