By Patsy R. Brumfield
OXFORD – Travis Childers and Greg Davis want the same job – to be the next U.S. representative for the 1st Congressional District.
Both conservatives, they share similar views against abortion, illegal immigration and runaway federal spending. They're also pro-gun, pro-family and pro-jobs.
They also support taking care of America's war veterans.
The two men will be on Tuesday's special election ballot along with Green Party candidate John Wages and independent Wally Pang. Childers and Davis also are party nominees for the Nov. 4 general election, and they were featured at a University of Mississippi political forum on Thursday sponsored by the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.
During the forum, they disagreed in some key ways, including the Iraq war and who benefits from tax cuts.
“We need to strip away the subsidies from ExxonMobil and Big Oil,” Childers said to a question about high gasoline prices. “They're not going to get a lot of sympathy from me.”
Davis said he supports reauthorization of the Bush tax cuts, which critics contend are disproportionately aimed at giving breaks to big businesses and the wealthy.
Childers said it's crucial to remember working families when it's time to give out tax breaks.
Davis, Southaven's mayor and a Republican, said he was happy to see his party's presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain, back a temporary removal of the federal gasoline tax, which Davis said he has supported since the campaign began.
Childers, a Democrat and longtime Prentiss County chancery clerk, pledged not to take any contributions from pharmaceutical companies during his campaign or when he's in Congress.
He also responded to a question about how he will get along with the more liberal leadership in the House.
“I was a conservative long before it was a buzzword,” the businessman said. “I'll vote with my party when they're right and I'll vote with Republicans when it's in the interest of North Mississippi.”
Davis, a civil engineer, denied he was behind a new campaign ad accusing Childers of not caring for the elderly in his Booneville nursing home.
“That's not our ad,” he said, as audience members groaned with disbelief.
But Davis said false accusations are coming from every side. He urged voters to get to know the candidates and make up their own minds.
On the Iraq war, Childers said America needs to influence its allies more and find a way to start to bring American troops home within 12-18 months from the start of a new administration in January.
“This was an ill-conceived war – Americans were misled,” he said.
Davis disagreed with a quick pullout of troops. “I would not vote for anything that would supersede decisions by our military experts,” he noted.