Sunday, November 8, 2009

Did Travis Childers just kill his future in the House?

I think so. I'm going to predict that Alan Nunnalee will take his seat come election time, unless Childers does something quickly to repair fences where they are broken. In my view, his health care vote cut a lot of holes in certain segments of his fence and some of his livestock . . . er . . . voters . . . are in danger of stampeding.

I know that Childers is fighting for his political future in a majority conservative district, and conventional wisdom says that if he voted for the Health Reform bill that the House just passed, it endangered him in his majority Republican district, but I think Childers has a different dynamic with the entrance of the highly visible and well-financed Alan Nunnalee.

Here's how I break it down: Childers won the seat vacated by Wicker by a coalition of voters, getting independent, moderate and liberal votes, as well as a portion of conservative votes. Nunnalee is highly regarded in conservative Republican circles and well-known throughout the state. By voting NO on Health Reform, Childers has alienated his independents, moderates (both Republican and Democratic moderates) and liberals, but I don't think he gained any support with conservative Republicans, who, I believe, are going to vote for Nunnalee, come hell or high water. I don't think Childers can sway them, and I think those are the voters who wanted a NO vote at all costs.

A lot of moderates who are strongly against abortion probably objected to the bill because of that issue, but once the limitations on abortions paid by the government plan were written in, he should have (politically speaking), voted yes. He's said, and will continue saying, that he voted against it for fiscal reasons, but he's a practical man, and I don't want to call him a liar, I just want to note that he is a politician and enough said there. That excuse comes closer to flying with Gene Taylor in south Mississippi because of his long record on fiscal issues.

I'm not arguing the morals of this, just the political realities. Personally, I hate to see poorer women denied the access to an abortion if they have a compelling reason (and poverty and inability to raise a child because of that poverty is a compelling reason in my view), but if it allowed this bill to pass, I can live with the restrictions for now. That's a battle that can be taken on later, and fought on it's own merits rather than being the hole that sank the ship of health care for all.

I'm not sure what Childers could do, at this point, to win back moderate, independent and liberal votes, but I'm sure he better start working on it, because I don't believe he can win without them.

I know that I'm voting write-in or third-party (if there is a third party candidate) unless he can change my mind, and I doubt he can. I'm not much given to that behavior, being fairly pragmatic, because I realize it helps the deeply conservative side, but at this point, I can't see much difference between the two of them, so I see no reason to vote for Childers again.

And, really, given the artificially whipped-up hysteria over health reform recently, Childers may have been lost, whatever he did. I just believe he tried to play it smart and got so blinded by the loudest hype that he was played a fool instead. Guess we'll find out next year.


  1. Even though the title is slightly offensive (I'll get over it) the article makes one point I agree with. I believe you are correct in saying Childers' conservative voting behavior will not pick up any more conservative voters. He did get some when he ran againt Davis, but most of that was Davis's fault. Nunnalee will probably pick some of them up. Childers is patterning himself after the blue-dog political survivalist Taylor in D4 who tends to make everyone angry by voting social conservative and progressive on taxes and big government. But he is still very popular in D4. Childers does not have the advantages Taylor has. D1 is not the bastian of conservatism that you describe. On a good day it may be R+1 but I believe it is a toss up. If Nunnalee actually does the groundwork he could win, but if he is a lazy campaigner like Davis, Childers will retain the seat. If moderates and progressives sit this one out or go third party as you are, Childers may very well be out. If that happens it will be the first time since the 60's that a sitting congressman in MS was unseated. Just my two cents.

  2. I'm puzzled as to why you think the title is offensive? Could you clarify it for me?

    Taylor has been in office so long and has worked so conspicuously for his district ecoomically that I can't see him being unseated; if Childers had that long history behind him, he wouldn't be in trouble.

    I'm surprised that you believe District 1 is not that conservative, but it could be the viewpoint from which one is gauging it.

    I think Rep. Childers would be in much better shape if he hadn't seemed to play both sides against the middle quite so obviously.

  3. Vote Libertarian!

  4. Vote Green. And neither one of us is going to get anywhere - but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do