Nunnelee won with less money than Childers

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

U.S. Rep. Travis Childers may have outraised challenger Alan Nunnelee, but it wasn’t enough to fight him off.
Childers, the Booneville Democrat, raised $1.84 million for his failed re-election campaign, compared to $1.67 million for Republican Nunnelee of Tupelo, new federal finance reports show.
But the then-state Sen. Nunnelee outraised Childers nearly 2-1 in contributions from individuals, the vast majority from Mississippi.
Childers’ strength lay in his incumbency, which fueled a 4-1 edge with contributions from political action committees.
In the end, Nunnelee beat Childers by about 30,000 of the 200,000 votes cast or by about 14 percentage points in the Nov. 2. election for the 1st Congressional District, which runs across North Mississippi.
“I don’t think Childers could have won with 10 times the money,” reflected Dr. Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Center for Government at Mississippi State University.
Wiseman, who’s studied Mississippi and national elections for many years, said Nunnelee benefited from the anti-incumbent sentiment, fueled by dissatisfaction with Democrats, who controlled the White House and Congress.
Nunnelee will be sworn into office in January.
Thursday was the deadline to file post-election campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.
New campaign information also was provided for the period Oct. 14 through Nov. 22.
Nunnelee’s report shows his campaign took in $268,744 compared to Childers’ $138,945 during this crucial final phase of the campaign.
Spending was nearly identical during this time – $374,748 by Childers and $372,869 by Nunnelee.
Among Childers’ expenses was repayment of a $50,000 personal loan.
Post-election reports were not available late Thursday from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committees. But it’s widely acknowledged that each spent sizable sums – into the millions – to win this race, which was cited nationally as key to either party’s control of the U.S. House.
“Both parties considered it winnable,” Wiseman said by phone from Washington, D.C., where he was attending a conference.
Childers is in the nation’s capital, too, completing work in the lame-duck Congress.
Wiseman said he’s interested in analyzing the race precinct by precinct for comparisons with the 2008 presidential race, in which Childers won a two-year term.
He also said he wants to look at where the campaign money came from.
But in the end, Wiseman noted, the vote result “wasn’t even close.”

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or

Final U.S. House financial report:
Candidate Total receipts Indiv. $$ PAC $$ Spending Cash left over
Childers $1,840,768 $774,547 $1,060,591 $1,861,083 $28,838
Nunnelee $1,673,758 $1,342,149 $277,239 $1,515,285 $152,534
Source: Federal Election Commission