Former Rep. Travis Childers will be announcing he’s running for the Senate seat in Mississippi, according to two sources familiar with his decision, giving Democrats a chance to capitalize on the Republican division within the state.
Childers made his decision official Friday afternoon. “I look forward to formally launching my campaign and traveling to every corner of our great state in the weeks to come. Mississippians know that I have a solid record of being an independent guy who will work across party lines and stand up to the powers that be when needed. In the U.S. Senate, I will continue to put Mississippi’s middle class first,” he said in a statement.
Childers, a Blue Dog Democrat, held a solidly Republican House seat from 2008 to 2010, proving his ability to win over conservative voters despite his Democratic affiliation. Democrats are hoping that conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel topples longtime Sen. Thad Cochran in a June primary — a development they believe will make the race highly competitive.
“He’s certainly a first-tier candidate. We expect this to be a first-tier race,” said one Mississippi-based Democratic operative. “The Republican primary is very uncertain right now, and we believe the tea-party candidate will make a strong showing.”
Childers is following a similar path to Sen. Joe Donnelly, who jumped from the House into a 2012 Senate race against Sen. Richard Lugar in Indiana, hoping he would lose to a conservative rival. Lugar lost the primary to Richard Mourdock, whose outspoken conservatism proved out of step, even in a Republican-friendly state.
Cochran is regarded as the most vulnerable Republican senator in a primary, and outside conservative groups are united behind McDaniel. Cochran, a veteran appropriator, hasn’t faced a challenging campaign since he was first elected to the Senate in 1978.
Regardless of the Republican nominee, Mississippi is still a very tough state for Democrats to contest, especially in a midterm year. President Obama won just 44 percent of the vote in 2012, and African-American turnout is lower in a midterm election. Childers won reelection in a presidential year — he was first elected in a 2008 special election — but lost by 14 points to GOP Rep. Alan Nunnelee in 2010.
The last time Democrats contested a Mississippi Senate race was in 2008, with former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove as their nominee. But Musgrove lost badly to Sen. Roger Wicker, by 16 points.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."