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Miss. House Special Heads to Runoff

The race to fill Mississippi's vacant 1st District House seat is headed to a May 13 runoff after Democrats tonight came within inches of stealing a heavily Republican seat.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to AP, Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers (D) led Southaven Mayor Greg Davis (R), 49 percent to 47 percent, in the contest to succeed Roger Wicker, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Since neither candidate reached the 50 percent threshold, forcing a runoff.

Special elections are often unpredictable, as they can draw far more money and media attention than a typical House race. But whatever the variables were in Mississippi tonight, it's hard to spin this as anything other than the latest evidence that the Republican brand is in trouble. President Bush won this district by 25 points in 2004, and now the National Republican Congressional Committee faces the prospect of having to spend even more of its precious cash just to keep a seat that by all rights should be safe for the GOP.

When Democrats captured the Illinois seat of ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) in a special election last month, Republicans suggested they had lost simply because their candidate was weak. If it happens again next month in Mississippi, the GOP may need to worry about more than just making another excuse.

By Ben Pershing  |  April 23, 2008; 12:51 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , House  
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