Spending tops $2M by Dem, GOP in Miss. 1st Dist.

Published 2:43 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2010

North Mississippi’s congressional race is turning into a multimillion dollar contest as Democrats work to hold onto the seat they won in 2008 and Republicans try to reclaim it.

The latest campaign finance reports show Democratic incumbent Travis Childers of Booneville has raised $1.6 million and spent nearly $1.2 million. Childers reported $494,848 cash on hand and $100,000 of debt.

Republican challenger Alan Nunnelee, a state senator from Tupelo, has raised $1.4 million and spent nearly $1.1 million. He reported $322,989 on hand and no debt.

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The Federal Election Commission website shows campaign money raised and spent through Sept. 30. Candidates’ finance reporting deadline was this past Friday, and the election is Nov. 2.

Childers won the 1st District seat in a May 2008 special election. He was elected to a full, two-year term that November, when Republican John McCain carried the district in the presidential race. The district — which covers all of 22 counties and parts of two others — had been represented by Republican Roger Wicker from 1995 until late 2007, when GOP Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to an open U.S. Senate seat.

Childers is a Blue Dog Democrat and voted against the massive health care bill his party pushed into law earlier this year. Still, Nunnelee says frequently that a vote for Childers is the same as a vote for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

Childers said during a campaign stop in Oxford this past week that he is an independent voice for his constituents and Nunnelee is running a “cookie cutter campaign” directed by national Republican groups.

“He hasn’t had an original thought in this campaign. Not one,” Childers said. “Everything out of the Washington play book.”

Nunnelee, who’s on a bus tour of the district this week, said during a debate last week at the University of Mississippi that Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill are taking the country in the wrong direction and he wants to stop that.

“No more excessive spending,” Nunnelee said. “No more borrowing from our grandchildren and their grandchildren. No more corporate bailouts.”

In southern Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, the FEC website shows that 21-year Democratic incumbent Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis raised $615,605, spent $504,014 and had $331,072 on hand. Republican challenger Steven Palazzo, a state representative from Biloxi, raised $534,844, spent $331,262 and had $203,582 on hand.

There were significant funding gaps in Mississippi’s other two congressional races.

In the 2nd District, which stretches through the Delta and into most of Jackson, 17-year Democratic incumbent Bennie Thompson of Bolton raised nearly $1.6 million, spent $790,278 and had more than $2 million cash on hand and no debt. Republican challenger Bill Marcy of Vicksburg raised $39,466, spent $25,611 and had $13,855 cash on hand and no debt.

In the central 3rd District, first-term Republican incumbent Gregg Harper of Pearl raised $624,130, spent $465,084 and had 176,322 cash on hand. Democratic challenger Joel Gill of Pickens told The Associated Press on Monday he has not filed a campaign finance report this year but he has raised about $4,700.