National Party Kibitzing Grows in Mississippi Special House Race

The effort by Davis and his Republican backers to push past Childers in the runoff are based on their attempts to “nationalize” the race. They are seeking to erode Childers’ claims of conservative credentials by associating him with more liberal national Democratic Party leaders — a tack being echoed in the Louisiana House special election contest between state Rep. Don Cazayoux, who also is running as a conservative-leaning Democrat, and Republican former state Rep. Woody Jenkins.

Davis, who is running on his own conservative agenda and his record as mayor, launched an ad this week that sought to characterize Childers as a liberal by connecting him to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama , the Democratic presidential contender. The ad portrayed Childers as remaining silent during the controversy over inflammatory remarks made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the longtime pastor of the Chicago church attended by Obama, and also when Obama suggested prior to the April 22 Pennsylvania primary that working-class voters who are “bitter” over economic conditions “cling” to religion and guns.

Davis implied that Obama had endorsed Childers’ campaign, and said that compelled Childers to comment on these controversies. Republicans note that Obama’s campaign Web site posted a notice asking supporters to make calls to boost support for Childers.

But Childers denied Obama had formally endorsed his campaign, and noted in a response ad that Obama is an individual “I don’t know and have never met.”

Childers also contended in a separate statement that Davis was running the ad to “distract” voters from his own campaign challenges. “This race is not about a senator from Illinois or a pastor from Chicago,” Childers said in a statement. “It’s about the people of Mississippi. It’s about right and wrong. And the way Greg Davis is running his campaign is wrong.”

National Party Kibitzing Grows in Mississippi Special House Race
Analysts have said it is possible that a kind word from Obama — who is seeking to become the nation’s first African-American president — could help Childers at the polls May 13 by increasing turnout among blacks who make up more than a quarter of district voters and typically vote overwhelmingly Democratic. But Childers, who is casting himself as a “pro-life” and “pro-gun” conservative, has to walk a fine line in a district that overall leans strongly to the right, as Republicans are basing their campaign against him on an allusion that he will side with liberal Democrats should he go to Washington.

The May 13 runoff is the fourth 1st District election this year. The candidates weathered a March 11 primary and the April 1 primary runoff in which Childers and Davis each won their party’s nomination to compete in the November general election for a full term in the upcoming 111th Congress. The candidates met again on April 22 to compete in the special election to fill the remainder of Wicker’s unexpired term, which ends in January, and will complete the circuit with the May 13 special election runoff.

The May 13 winner will be sworn into Congress shortly after his win and will be able to boast of his experience in office when the general election campaign rolls around this fall.

Analysts have said it is possible that a kind word from Obama — who is seeking to become the nation’s first African-American president — could help Childers at the polls May 13 by increasing turnout among blacks who make up more than a quarter of district voters and typically vote overwhelmingly Democratic. But Childers, who is casting himself as a “pro-life” and “pro-gun” conservative, has to walk a fine line in a district that overall leans strongly to the right, as Republicans are basing their campaign against him on an allusion that he will side with liberal Democrats should he go to Washington.

CQ
5/2/8

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