Mississippi's First Congressional District is a lot like South Carolina's Third Congressional District. It is rural, Southern to the core, and has been held by a Republican for the past 14 years.
That changed Tuesday night. In a special election to fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Rep. Roger Wicker to the United States Senate, Democrat Travis Childers defeated Republican Greg Davis. The difference in the special election was 53.7% for the Democrat and 46.3% for the Republican. The two will face off again in November.
What is troubling for Republicans is that the Mississippi First is the third special election lost in the House of Representatives, and the second in deep South "safe" Republican seats. The mood of discontentment with President Bush seems to have effect even in the heart of once thought of as safe GOP country.
It illustrates the problem that John McCain and other Republican candidates now have in the fall. They must distinguish their campaigns and agendas from the sitting Republican President in a way that wins over the dissatisfied voters while not alienating the traditional GOP base.
While I am not predicting the return to power of Southern Democrats to be widespread, this year is their best opportunity in years to gain ground. With the combination of Obama on the ticket and such anger at President Bush, the South could, for the first time in 14 years, be a real battleground.