Childers, Davis say they’ll end negative ads

Published 2:14 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Democrat Travis Childers and Republican Greg Davis are pledging to end negative campaign ads in the waning days of the race for U.S. Representative.

The two candidates took part in a debate this past week sponsored by the Overby Center For Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Childers, the 50-year-old incumbent, and Davis, mayor of Southaven just outside Memphis, face each other for the second time in the Nov. 4 general election. Childers beat Davis earlier this year in a special election to fill final months of the two-year term Republican Roger Wicker started.

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When Republican Trent Lott retired from the Senate last December, Gov. Haley Barbour tapped Wicker to temporarily fill the Senate seat. Wicker and Democratic former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove are competing in November to fill the final four years of the six-year Senate term.

On Wednesday, Childers and Davis sparred on a wide range of issues including offshore drilling and which candidate is the true conservative in the race.

They also called for an end to the divisive ads.

“We both pledged to run clean ads and then too many third-party ads entered our race,” Childers said. “We’re trying to run a campaign just like we ran in the spring…about building people up, not tearing them down, about moving North Mississippi forward, not moving it back. I hope people see that Greg and I are making an effort.”

Davis agreed that some of the ads had gone too far, and he took issue with one ad airing early in the campaign that linked him with racist views espoused by the Ku Klux Klan. “To compare me to the Rise and Fall of the Ku Klux Klan was a disgrace,” Davis said.

“I told my party that was a disgrace,” Childers said.

However, Childers took issue with an ad for Davis that compared him to Sen. Barack Obama’s former preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Davis said some of the ads against him got so bad that he and wife Suzann and his three daughters simply quit watching television for a while.

“We both agree that it got out of control,” Davis said. “We’re going to pledge to keep it clean.”

Childers and Davis are vying to receive votes in the mostly conservative north Mississippi. The candidates have debated mostly about Davis’ record since he went to Washington in mid-May.

Independent Wally Pang of Batesville and Green Party candidate John M. Wages Jr. of Tupelo also are on the ballot next month. They’re running low-budget campaigns.