Childers, a former congressman, hopes to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com
TUPELO, Mississippi (CFP) — U.S. Senator Thad Cochran’s quest for a seventh term faces a new complication with a potentially formidable Democrat, Travis Childers, entering the race even as Cochran is dealing with a primary challenge.
Childers, who represented northern Mississippi in the U.S. House from 2008 to 2011, said he’s running because Washington is “more partisan and dysfunctional than ever.”
“What I know is that the old ways of Washington aren’t working, and a new breed of partisanship isn’t the answer,” Childers, 55, said in statement announcing his candidacy on February 28.
“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.”
When he ran for re-election to his U.S. House seat in 2010, Childers, who styles himself a Blue Dog Democrat, had the backing of the National Right to Life Committee and the National Rifle Association. But he still lost in the GOP wave to U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnalee.
Despite the Magnolia State’s pronounced Republican tilt, Childers gives the Democrats at least a fighting chance in the general election, particularly if Cochran doesn’t survive a primary challenge from State Senator Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party favorite who is getting backing from national conservative groups.
McDaniel, 41, has been endorsed by both the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, which have been critical of Cochran for being, in their view, insufficiently conservative. Chief among Cochran’s sins: His vote in favor of the compromise legislation that restarted the government.
Cochran, 75, is the most senior Republican in the Senate and was a former chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. Since winning election in 1978, he hasn’t faced serious opposition, winning re-election four times with more than 60 percent of the vote.
Cochran is one of five Southern Republican senators facing a Tea Party-inspired prmary challenges this year. Those other races are in Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucy.
Party leaders have expressed concerns that if any of those Republicans fall, it could open those seats to Democrats and imperil GOP hopes of taking back the Senate this year.