Mississippi's 1st congressional district special election, 2008

Mississippi's 1st congressional district special election, 2008
This is an article about the U.S. House seat formerly held by Roger Wicker. For the election article regarding the general U.S. House election in Mississippi, see United States House of Representatives elections in Mississippi, 2008.

The 2008 Mississippi 1st congressional district special election was a special election in the state of Mississippi to determine who would serve the remainder of former Representative Roger Wicker's term. After an April 22, 2008 ballot resulted in no candidate receiving a majority, Democratic Party candidate Travis Childers defeated Republican candidate Greg Davis in a runoff election on May 13, 2008.


Democratic primary



Democratic Primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Democratic Travis Childers 40,919 41.41%
Democratic Steve Holland 30,274 30.63%
Democratic Marshall Coleman 12,913 13.07%
Democratic Brian Neely 10,624 10.75%
Democratic Ken Hurt 4,095 4.14%
Totals 98,825 100.00%

Runoff Results

Democratic primary runoff results[2]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Democratic Travis Childers 20,797 56.58%
Democratic Steve Holland 15,958 43.42%
Totals 262,086 100.00%

Republican primary



Republican primary results[3]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Republican Glenn McCullough 17,082 38.88%
Republican Greg Davis 16,161 36.79%
Republican Randy Russell 10,688 24.33%
Totals 43,931 100.00%

Runoff results

Republican primary runoff results[4]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Republican Greg Davis 16,733 50.82%
Republican Glenn McCullough 16,196 49.18%
Totals 32,929 100.00%

General election



On December 31, 2007, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour appointed Roger Wicker to the Senate seat vacated 13 days earlier by Sen. Trent Lott. At the time of his appointment, Wicker was already a U.S. Representative for Mississippi's District 1. As a result of Wicker's appointment to the Senate, his House seat became vacant, necessitating a special election to determine who would serve the remainder of Wicker's term.

Mississippi's 1st congressional district covers the northeastern part of the state, including the cities of Columbus, Grenada, Oxford, Southaven, and Tupelo. The district had been represented by Republican Roger Wicker since 1995. The district has demonstrated itself to be "reliably conservative" in past elections, with George W. Bush winning the district by 25 points in the 2004 presidential election.[5] Early speculation had Republicans Greg Davis, Glenn McCullough, and Randy Russell and Democrats Steve Holland and Jamie Franks as contenders[6][7]. All but Franks ended up as candidates.

The party primaries were held on March 11.[6] The primary runoff election was held on April 1, 2008.[8] According to Mississippi state election law, those who voted in the Democratic Primary on March 11 were only allowed to vote in the Democratic runoff on April 1st. Mississippi was one of the states where right wing commentators such as Rush Limbaugh suggested people cross party lines on March 11 in order to keep the competition alive between Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Several websites such as the Daily Kos[9] and politico.com [10] suggested that this is why the Republican primary runoff was so close between the more moderate McCullough and Davis as many of the more Conservative Republicans were not allowed to vote in that runoff. It is also believed that this has led to the final special election race involving a conservative Democrat (Childers) who has a better than usual chance to win the general election. Republicans were particularly concerned that a race between Childers and McCullough would've increased the Democrat's chances.[10]

The initial special election to fill the seat was held on April 22, 2008; no one received a majority of the vote so a runoff election was held between the two top vote getters: Democrat Travis Childers (who was the top vote getter with 49.4% of the vote) and Republican Greg Davis (who received 46.3% of the initial special election vote) on May 13, 2008.

The National Republican Congressional Committee spent over $1.3 million in support of Davis' bid for the vacant seat. Freedom's Watch, a Republican-supporting advocacy group, purchased an additional $550,000 in advertising. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $1.5 million in support of Childers.[5]

Despite the district's Republican leanings, Childers defeated Davis in the final round of the special election by a 54% to 46% margin.[11] Once sworn in, Childers will serve through the end of the 110th Congress in January 2009.

Childers victory represents the 3rd time during the 110th Congress that a Democrat has been elected to a previously Republican-held seat in a special election. Childers victory is seen as a surprise upset for the Republican party as Mississippi's 1st district has been historically right leaning. It is believed that this sends "a clear signal of national problems ahead for Republicans in the fall"[12]. Negative campaign ads approved by Davis tried to link Childers with Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his controversial former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.[13][14]

Childers and Davis faced off against each other in the November general election.[15]Again, Childers won that contest.


Mississippi's 1st Congressional District special election, 2008[16]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Democratic Travis Childers 33,304 49.44%
Republican Greg Davis 31,177 46.28%
Republican Glenn McCullough 968 1.44%
Democratic Steve Holland 789 1.17%
Independent Wally Pang 725 1.08%
Green John M. Wages, Jr. 398 0.59%
Totals 67,361 100.00%

Runoff results

Mississippi's 1st Congressional District runoff special election, 2008[17]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Democratic Travis Childers 58,037 53.78%
Republican Greg Davis 49,877 46.22%
Totals 107,914 100.00%
Democratic gain from Republican

Newspaper endorsements

Childers was endorsed by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal[18], The Commercial Dispatch[19], and The Commercial Appeal[20].

See also

External links

Campaigns' websites


  1. ^ http://www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/2008/Primary/DC%20Statewide/2008%20Statewide%20Democratic%20Primary%20Results.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/2008/Primary%20Run%20Off%2008/Statewide%20Dem%2008%20run%20off/2008%20Statewide%20Democratic%20Primary%20Runoff%20Results.pdf
  3. ^ http://www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/2008/Primary/RP%20Statewide/2008%20StatewideRP.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/2008/Primary%20Run%20Off%2008/Statewide%20Rep%2008%20run%20off/2008%20Statewide%20Republican%20Primary%20Run-off%20Results.pdf
  5. ^ a b A House Race Holds Clues for GOP, Susan Davis, The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2008.
  6. ^ a b commercialappeal.com Southaven mayor hopes to represent First District in Congress, January 12, 2008
  7. ^ The Clarion-Ledger: "Wicker moves up; who moves in?", January 1, 2008
  8. ^ Clarion Ledger: Election '08: Field set for congressional races
  9. '^ "DailyKos: Limbaugh's system-gaming could give us a new Democratic congressman
  10. ^ a b Politico.com: Primary shenanigans could backfire
  11. ^ Miss. Democrat wins House seat in special election, Emily Waggster Pettus, Associated Press, May 13, 2008.
  12. ^ The New York Times: Democrat Wins House Seat in Mississippi, May 14, 2008
  13. ^ "Mississippi election loss is GOP 'wakeup call' - CNN.com". CNN. May 15, 2008. http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/14/miss.election/index.html. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Republicans use Obama as the bad guy in negative ads - CNN.com". CNN. May 4, 2008. http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/04/obama.ads/index.html. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  15. ^ Commercial Dispatch Online
  16. ^ http://www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/2008/First%20Congressional%20Special%20Election/Congressional%20Election%20PDF/2008%20First%20Congressional%20Special%20Election%20Certification.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/2008/First%20Congressional%20Special%20Election%20Run%20off/Cong%20Election%20Run%20Off%20PDF/PDF2/08%20RUNN%20OFF%20CERTIFICATE%20OF%20VOTE%20(2).pdf
  18. ^ "EDITORIAL:Childers best choice". Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: pp. 4 (Section B). April 18, 2008. http://www.djournal.com/pages/story.asp?ID=271891&pub=1&div=Opinion 
  19. ^ "Childers for Congress". The Commercial Dispatch. April 20, 2008. http://cdispatch.com/articles/2008/04/20/opinion/opinion8730.txt 
  20. ^ "Childers for Mississippi's 1st District". The Commercial Appeal. May 11, 2008. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/may/11/editorial-childers-for-mississippis-1st/ 

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