Congressional Contest Roundup—Mississippi | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Congressional Contest Roundup—Mississippi

U.S. Senate

Four candidates are vying for the Senate seat that Republican Roger Wicker now occupies. Wicker, a former state lawmaker who took over for retiring Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in 2007, faces Albert N. Gore Jr., a Democrat, and Thomas Cramer and Shawn O’Hara of the Constitution Party and Reform Party, respectively. With Wicker sitting on $2.6 million in campaign cash, mostly donated by congressional leadership PACs, unseating him represents a yeoman’s challenge for any of the four contenders. Of his opponents, only Cramer, of the conservative Constitution Party, has reported raising any money. As of Sept. 20, Cramer had raised $1,730 and was $1 in debt.

Until Congress put a implemented a ban on earmarks, Wicker once held the dubious distinction of “King of Pork.” In the 2008 fiscal year, then-Rep. Wicker sponsored 42 earmarks totaling $159 million, ranking him among the top spenders in the U.S. House.

1st Congressional District

Democrats’ best hope of wresting away one seat might lie with Brad Morris, Rep. Travis Childers former chief of staff. Morris, an Oxford attorney, criticizes the current GOP-led Congress as a “complete failure.” “I see a Congress that has completely abandoned middle-class and working families,” Morris said in an October interview with the Jackson Free Press. He added, of Nunnelee: “I do not see a willingness out of our current congressman to work in a bipartisan fashion.”

Nunnelee proudly defends and promotes conservative ideals, including advocating repeal of the federal health-care overhaul and railing against what he characterizes the “trillion-dollar welfare state.”

The Morris-Nunnelee matchup appears to be the Democratic Party’s only hope for winning back a seat in the House, and Morris isn’t exactly going down without a fight. Despite Nunnelee’s $1.4 million fundraising advantage, the challenger has been able to raise—and spend—close to $200,000 during the cycle through Sept. 30.

2nd Congressional District

Mississippi’s only majority-black congressional district features an interesting race between a deeply entrenched powerful incumbent in Rep. Bennie Thompson, conservative Republican Bill Marcy and the upstart Independent Cobby Mondale Williams.

Williams is ready to jump in headfirst, eager to work on issues as varied as agriculture, levees and ports, education and health care. He counts his experience working on Capitol Hill and his youth as key assets. “I figured it was time for somebody young who understands this generation, who understands the youth, and who’ll be able to provide those resources for the youth, for the youth of today,” Williams, a Canton resident, told the Jackson Free Press in May.

Thompson points to his years almost 20 years experience in Congress, part of which he spent chairing the House Homeland Security Committee as the reason voters should send him back for another term.

A former mayor and Hinds County supervisor, Thompson sees his main role in Congress as hooking local governments up with federal resources, but is disappointed that too few take advantage.

As he told the JFP in March, before the Democratic primary: “A member of Congress can suggest, urge, and highly recommend that communities take advantage but at the end of the day, the decision rests with the leaders of those communities.”

A Reform Party candidate, LaJena Williams, is also on the ballot.

3rd Congressional District

It’s easy to forget that Republican Rep. Gregg Harper represents part of Jackson. Mississippi’s District 3 captures the affluent corner of northeast Jackson and cuts a diagonal path across the state’s midsection, extending from the southwest corner of the state northeastward to Oktibbeha and Noxubee counties.

A first-term incumbent, Harper has played the role of a fairly vanilla conservative in championing rolling back regulations on automobile dealers and manufacturers, lower taxes, immigration reform and being against anything Barack Obama stands for. He has a wide-open path to re-election. He has raised $647,340 and spent $452,683, leaving him with $235,788 cash on hand at the end of September, but faces just one opponent, John “Luke” Pannell of the Reform Party.

4th Congressional District

Republican Steven Palazzo is such a team player that he has the Romney/Ryan logo posted on his own campaign website, right above a statement endorsing the budget crafted by Rep. Ryan, the GOP veep pick. Palazzo, a first-term congressman and former representative in the Mississippi House, trails other incumbent members of Congress with $891,523 during the cycle.

Democratic opponent Matthew Moore says he supports the federal Affordable Care Act, a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, increasing education funding, ensuring veterans’ health care, backing labor unions, environmental stewardship and policies in support of “all committed loving couples.” As of press time this week, the FEC did not have campaign-finance information for Moore or other 4th CD hopefuls Robert W. Claunch of the Reform Party or Libertarian Ron Williams.

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