By NEMS Daily Journal
For some, the motivation was the economy. For others, it was Washington spending. And for still others, it was a seeming loss of direction and principle.
Whether voting Republican, Democrat, independent or minor party, Northeast Mississippians had their own reasons for going to the polls in Tuesday’s critical midterm congressional elections.
And in most cases, according to an informal survey by the Daily Journal, those reasons led them toward Republican Alan Nunnelee in the 1st District race.
“Things have been sort of going downhill under the control of the Democrats so I decided to go the other way in this election,” said Rachel Anderson of Tupelo. “I’d like to see less government control in Washington and I think the Republican Party is our best chance at getting that.”
Many of the themes expressed by Northeast Mississippians echoed the sentiments that had been documented in the long campaign season – anxiety over the economy and jobs, concerns that the government was overreaching and overspending, fear that the country had abandoned its values.
But not all concerns were partisan. The idea of having politicians work together was also on voters’ minds.
“I’d like to see more cooperation between parties and between the executive branch and the legislative branch of government,” said Jim Diffee, a retired Tupelo businessman.
His vote for Nunnelee, however, fell in line with the GOP’s campaign message. “I voted for Nunnelee mainly because I hope he’ll change who the speaker is in the House,” he said, referring to Nancy Pelosi, “and change the direction Congress is going with runaway spending.”
‘No jobs, period.’
In an area where unemployment tops 10 percent, voters were drawn to the polls to deliver a message about the economy, including taxes.
Charles Moore of Tupelo was mum on his choice for Congress, but did say the economy was his main reason for voting.
“No jobs, period,” said Moore. “There aren’t enough jobs circulating for people to survive in this country. I think we have to really focus on that aspect in this election.”
Rob Williams of Tupelo voted for Nunnelee in hopes that he will slow down President Barack Obama’s programs.
“He’s going too fast with his agenda,” Williams said. “I would like to see the Bush tax cuts extended, because I think that helped out the economy.”
Darlynn Pegues of Oxford declined to name her choice of congressional candidate but said that after the election, she’d “like to see a lot of things happen – mostly jobs that people can do and will do.
“I don’t think they’re really trying to help lower-class and middle-class people,” she said. “Everybody isn’t a criminal. Some people just didn’t have the opportunity to get an education. We need help. We need help.”
For voters concerned about seeing a more conservative and religious emphasis, Nunnelee was the preferred choice.
“I’d like to see someone stand more for the Christians,” said Rachel Waldrop of Holly Springs. “That’s why I voted for Alan Nunnelee. He stands for Christians. I would like to see prayer back in school. America has forgotten God.”
Russell Houston, also of Holly Springs, spoke in similar terms.
“The conditions of the country have turned us far away from God,” he said. “We need to return to God and follow the guidelines of the U.S. Constitution and also individual responsibility and the paths we need to take to create wealth and return the country to the greatness it once had.”
Said Rhonda Hanby, a Tupelo CPA who voted for Nunnelee: “I would like our congressmen to return to the Christian values, principles and practices on which our government was founded with respect to the Constitution and laws.”
Other issues also played in voters’ decisions.
“I’m most concerned about education, the environment, energy and the economy,” said Holly Raney of Oxford, who voted for Childers. “I’d like to see them lock onto these four plus take continued action for small, independent businesses. This is a pivotal time in our existence. We’re behind four or five major countries in education.”
Shameaka Patton of Tupelo said she voted to help the president.
“I vote to try to make a difference,” said Patton. “This election is important because it’s not just about Obama, but it’s about who is supporting him. If he doesn’t have support, then what he is working for will backfire.”
“I did vote for Travis Childers. I think I made a good decision. If not, at least I still voted and my voice will be heard.”
Interviews for this story were conducted by Daily Journal reporters and editors.