Mississippi 3rd District
Mississippi, old and new. The old Mississippi is the Neshoba County fair, held every August since 1889 in the town of Philadelphia. What started as a farmer’s picnic has become the traditional place where Mississippi politicians announce their candidacies, with the crowds watching to take their measure. The crowds are also there to watch the races on the state’s only legal horse track. When Republican Ronald Reagan stumped here in 1980 and Democrat Michael Dukakis campaigned here in 1988, neither of them mentioned what Philadelphia and Neshoba County are best known for nationally. There is no memorial, except engraved stones at two African-American churches, to mark the events of the summer of 1964, when three civil-rights workers, two white and one black, were murdered for the crime of urging black American citizens to register to vote. In June 2005, a jury of nine whites and three blacks convicted Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old preacher and sawmill operator, of manslaughter. He was sentenced to three life sentences. The new Mississippi is some 80 miles away, in Rankin and Madison counties east and north of Jackson, where subdivisions, shopping centers, and office complexes are sprouting up in the countryside, as well as the big Nissan plant operating in Canton since 2003, employing 5,000 workers. Even as other areas of the state were feeling the effects of the nationwide recession, Rankin County had the lowest unemployment rate in Mississippi.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 3rd Congressional District of Mississippi includes the Jackson suburbs in Rankin County and south Madison County, plus the affluent neighborhoods of northeast Jackson in Hinds County. It stretches north to Starkville, home of Mississippi State University, and south almost to Laurel. In the southwest, it reaches over to include Natchez, where 600 antebellum mansions and other properties with live oaks sit atop bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. The small town of Macon was the scene in 2007 of a first-ever Justice Department lawsuit against a black Democratic Party official for discriminating against the voting rights of minority whites. In the middle of the district are Neshoba County and Meridian, where Republican presidential candidate John McCain was once a Navy flight instructor at Naval Air Station Meridian. The airfield is named for his grandfather. The district’s political tradition had been Democratic for many years, but its preference now is strongly Republican: Mississippi, old and new. In 2008, McCain had no problem winning the district, 61%-39%.