House e-campaign starts with a heavy blast

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

It’s more than 250 days until 2010’s general election day, but electronic communications are flying to try to shape public opinion about candidates for the U.S. House.
Some e-mails are informational, some seem downright nasty.
As of Friday, Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District – basically north Mississippi – had four candidates seeking to make two party slots on the Nov. 1 ballot:
– Travis Childers of Booneville, a Democrat, the incumbent and unopposed so far in his party.
– Angela McGlowan of Oxford, Republican, consultant and former Fox News commentator.
– Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo, Republican, state senator.
– Henry Ross of Eupora, Republican, former mayor and Bush Administration appointee.
McGlowan, Nunnelee and Ross will square off June 1 in the GOP primary, a race few thought would be this interesting a few months ago.
March 1 is the qualifying deadline.
Thus far, the national Republican information machine is solidly behind Nunnelee, although a recent report in the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly brought attention to “a little spat” on the GOP Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” Program, which targets favorite candidates.
That’s when Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., cautioned the group that it might want to proceed with caution on Nunnelee’s behalf because McGlowan aimed to make a contest of it.
Nunnelee reached “contender” status with the “Young Guns” in early January, which put him on the second of three levels for the GOP recruitment program.
An NRCC e-mail announced his achievement, proclaiming him a “formidable candidate” to reclaim the seat from the Democrats.
Six days later, the Democrats e-mailed a National Journal story headlined “Money Woes Could Stymie GOP Comeback.” The story noted that despite positive polling, Republicans’ party committees continue to trail Dem counterparts, in receipts and/or cash on hand, and that the grassroots “Tea Party” movement may be draining some potential resources.
Back and forth it’s gone since then with at least 32 messages from the various interests in the past five weeks.
• “Childers Ranks as 4th Most Independent Member of His Party, Jan. 13 (Dems)
• McGlowan Meets with NRCC, Jan. 21 (Dems)
• Childers #10 seat likely to switch party control, Jan. 21 (GOP)
• Nunnelee’s strong fundraising continues, Jan. 22 (GOP)
• Childers to Report Strong Year of Fundraising, Jan. 22 (Dems)
And on and on.
Even in just this short a time, some campaign themes have become obvious.
Dems will seek to paint Nunnelee with a legislative tax record “you can’t trust.” They say even though Nunnelee signed the American’s for Tax Reform Pledge against raising taxes, he voted to increase them on tobacco, gasoline and hospital beds.
GOPers push Nunnelee’s success at “uniting” the region’s Republicans, touting support from 2008 House-race foes Southaven Mayor Greg Davis and former TVA chairman Glenn McCullough of Tupelo.
Ross and McGlowan campaigns have been less active with e-communications, although McGlowan’s messages have picked up since she officially kicked off her campaign last week.
Nunnelee communications set brand Childers as a “tax-and-spend liberal” in Washington to do the bidding of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
D.C. Dems seem to like McGlowan’s entry into the race against Nunnelee.
“Given Alan Nunnelee’s record, it’s no surprise that conservative activists in Mississippi are stepping forward to challenge him,” said Jesse Ferguson, southern regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
After Childers won the 2008 general election, many voters said they were turned off to Davis’ candidacy by too much heavy-handedness by the national GOP.
With more than eight months to go, there’s plenty of time for more of the same all around.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com. Read Patsy’s blog, From the Front Row, on NEMS360.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.