Childers likely to be sworn in next week

Published 5:00 pm Friday, May 16, 2008

Democrat Travis Childers hopes to be sworn in to Congress early next week.

Before then, though, he says he’ll have a staff member working in Washington to reopen the Capitol Hill office that had been occupied by the north Mississippi’s former representative, Republican Roger Wicker.

Childers won a special election Tuesday in the 1st District and will serve the final few months of the two-year term Wicker started in January 2007.

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Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to fill a Senate vacancy in December when Trent Lott retired one year into a six-year term.

Childers said he probably will be sworn in this coming Tuesday, and he has been promised a seat on the Agriculture Committee.

“It’s still the number one industry in the state of Mississippi,” he said in a phone interview Thursday from Booneville.

Childers hopes to have at least one office open in north Mississippi by the end of next week. He said he’s searching for places to open one or two other offices in the 24-county district that stretches from the Tennessee state line in the north to parts of the Golden Triangle in the south and from the Delta flatlands in the west to the Appalachian foothills in the east.

“We’re very conscious of the work involved,” Childers said. “We’re going to make sure our constituent services are tended to.”

Childers defeated Republican Greg Davis in a runoff this week, giving Democrats their third takeover this year of a seat long held by the GOP. The other changes came during a special election in March in Illinois and earlier this month in Louisiana.

The national parties poured millions of dollars into the Mississippi race. Vice President Dick Cheney campaigned on election eve in Southaven, where Davis is mayor. Childers, the Prentiss County chancery clerk, got help from several members of the Blue Dog coalition, a group of conservative congressional Democrats.

Childers is filling one of his top Washington jobs by hiring away a staff member from one of the Blue Dogs, Rep. John Tanner of Tennessee — with Tanner’s blessing.

This week’s runoff marked the fourth time for north Mississippi voters to go to the polls in nine weeks.

Democratic and Republican primaries for the general election were March 11 and runoffs were April 1. Childers and Davis won those runoffs to earn spots on the Nov. 4 ballot to seek a two-year term that starts next January. Independent Wally Pang and Green Party candidate John M. Wages Jr. also are running in November.

Six candidates were in a special election April 22, with Childers and Davis advancing to this week’s runoff.

Wicker and Democratic former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove are competing to fill the final four years of the term Lott started. Although the Senate race is considered a special election, it will coincide with the Nov. 4 general election.