Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

BREAKING NEWS: Democrats win again in a Republican stronghold

May 13, 2008 |  8:20 pm

Forget West Virginia. The election that pros in both parties were watching tonight was a special House faceoff in Mississippi -- and the results could not be worse for the GOP.

For the third time during the last few months, a Democrat triumphed in a House district that long had been solidly Republican.

In this case -- Mississippi's 1st congressional district -- Travis Childers bucked last-minute intervention by Vice President Dick Cheney to win a seat the GOP had held, easily, since 1994.

Cheney personally stumped on behalf of the Republican candidate, Greg Davis, on Monday. Davis and his allies also sought, in television ads, to undercut Childers by tying him to Barack Obama. But with most of the vote counted, Childers led, 52% to 48%, and was declared the victor.

Earlier this month, a Democrat won a Louisiana House seat that had been occupied by Republicans for more than 30 years. And in early March, in an especially sweet win for the Democrats, they took over the district that retired former House Speaker Dennis Hastert had represented since the mid-1980s.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly trumpeted ...

the outcome in Mississippi (where 3 out of 4 House districts are now in Democratic hands). In a release, she said: "For the third time this year, Democrats have turned a red seat to blue, proving that Americans across our country want real solutions and reject Republicans' misleading and negative attacks. For the first time in more than 30 years, Democrats have won three special elections in Republican seats in one cycle."

She added: "I look forward to welcoming Congressman-elect Childers and his family to the Capitol and to swearing" him in.

You bet she does. And normally -- given the trend Pelosi cited and President Bush's abysmal approval ratings -- a Democratic presidential victory in November, along with sweeping congressional gains, would loom as a foregone conclusion.

But as the massive rejection by West Virginia Democrats of the party's front-runner for the White House nomination underscored today, the normal rules may not apply this year.

-- Don Frederick