Voters in the 1st Congressional District on Tuesday will cast ballots in a special, non-partisan election to determine our next representative in the U.S. House – the person who will succeed now-Sen. Roger Wicker for the rest of the two-year term that began in 2007.
Travis Childers of Booneville, the top vote-getter among all candidates in party primaries completed on April 1, is the best candidate on the ballot. Childers is the Prentiss County Chancery Clerk, and his successful, positive and issues-focused campaign in the Democratic primary helped put him in the November general election. He will be on the ballot in November regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's vote.
The other major contender on Tuesday's ballot is Greg Davis, the mayor of Southaven in DeSoto County, a fast-growing county that's part of metropolitan Memphis, Tenn. Davis, a Republican, won the nomination for the November general election in defeating former TVA Chairman Glenn McCullough, who also served as mayor of Tupelo.
John Wages, a Green Party candidate from Lee County, and Wally Pang, an independent from Panola County, also will be on the special election ballot and the November ballot. Neither faced a primary.
Davis' negative campaign
Davis unfortunately continues in the special election the same timbre of intensely negative campaigning he used against McCullough in the Republican primary. While negative campaigning crafted by cynical political professionals has sadly become commonplace in elections today, Davis – with assistance in the special election campaign from the National Republican Congressional Committee – has focused on distortions of his opponents' records and attacks on their personal integrity that are beyond the muddied norm.
This is precisely the kind of scorched-earth politics we need less of in Washington, not more.
Childers, on the other hand, has – until backed into a corner by Davis – run a campaign focused on the needs of the 1st District and his own desire and ability to bring together people of divergent viewpoints to build consensus. That's the historic Northeast Mississippi path to success, not division and bitterness based on a slavish allegiance to partisan ideology or a win-at-all-costs political mentality.
Davis blasts Childers for being a Democrat, and lamely links him to national Democratic leaders. The larger issue in this race is who the better candidate is to represent the entire 1st District, and Childers wins in that category.
Mississippi congressmen, Democrats and Republicans, through the decades have excelled in representing our state by learning that pragmatic bipartisanship and collegiality is the best method on Capitol Hill. Were cooperation not the historic practice among our state's proportionately tiny delegation in the House and Senate, our senators and representatives could have been faceless, voiceless fractions in a very large picture.
Reasoned bipartisanship is smart politics, and we believe Travis Childers effectively will practice it.
Childers stands squarely in the mainstream of a long line of people who have ably represented our total 1st District region's interests in the U.S House.
We support his election.