West Virginia's Democratic primary may have sucked all the oxygen out of the room Tuesday night, but in another, less-noticed race that may actually say more about what's to come this fall, Republicans got some very bad news.
Voters in Mississippi's 1st Congressional District went to the polls on Tuesday to vote in a runoff for a special election to fill that district's seat in the House of Representatives. The seat had been in Republican hands since 1995, but former Rep. Roger Wicker was recently appointed to fill Trent Lott's spot in the Senate, which left Wicker's old job up for grabs. The Associated Press has now called the election for Democrat Travis Childers; he defeated Republican Greg Davis.
Both national parties had thrown considerable resources into the race. According to the Hill, "Both national party House committees plugged more than $1 million into the race, and spending by the candidates and outside groups like GOP-backing Freedom's Watch pushed the race over $5 million total." Vice President Dick Cheney also traveled to the district to campaign for Davis.
More disturbing for Republicans, though, is that this is the second time in just weeks that voters in a conservative district were apparently unswayed by a strategy House Republicans are counting on for victory in November. Republicans want to take back the House by, in part, tying Democratic candidates to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Barack Obama. Childers had been repeatedly hit by ads that attempted to link him with Obama, and with Obama's controversial former pastor. But Childers weathered that attack, just as Louisiana Democrat Don Cazayoux had before him. In fact, Childers' victory makes the third straight special election this year in which Democrats have picked up a seat in a Republican district.
With this victory, Childers will get to finish out the remainder of Wicker's term, which lasts until January 2009. Childers and Davis will face each other again in November to determine who'll serve the next full term that begins after that.