Desoto Times - Democrats say it's their year - A packed house at the DeSoto County Courthouse listened as Democratic candidates vying for House and Senate seats outlined their plans to improve the economy and fix the nation's health care crisis. A half dozen Democratic candidates spoke before an estimated crowd of 200 people at one of the largest Democratic gatherings in recent history.
Travis Childers, 49, is seeking Roger Wicker's former First Congressional District House seat. "This is an important election - a seat that has only opened up twice in my lifetime," Childers said. A longtime Prentiss County Chancery Clerk, nursing home owner and realtor from Booneville, Childers touts his ties to the working people of Mississippi. Childers said he was just 16 when his father died in 1974. His mother worked two jobs to put food on the family's table. Childers went on to college while working full time to pay his way. The Ole Miss graduate now runs a 120-bed nursing home in Booneville. "I stand for the working class people," Childers said. "It's a tragedy that working class families don't have health care. This campaign is about jobs. It's about the economy."
Gloria Holland, speaking on behalf of her husband, longtime State Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said Holland, chairman of the House, Public Health Committee, is committed to making health care affordable for all Mississippians. Holland formerly chaired the House Agricultural Committee. He initiated the state Children's health Insurance Program. "Steve Holland has stood for North Mississippi for the past 25 years," Gloria Holland, mayor of Plantersville, told the audience.
Lawyer Brian Neely, 47, of Tupelo is also in the running for the First Congressional District seat. "People are suffering and they are hurting," Neely said. The son of a physician, Neely said he knows about the need to improve health care. "I know what it's like to have an elderly parent, and have to decide between groceries and medicine. We are citizens of the richest country in the world. It's absolutely ridiculous." A disabled veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Neely said veterans need assistance. He promised "new ideas and new vision."
Marshall Coleman, also seeking the First Congressional seat, said he has been endorsed by James "Ken" Hurt who has withdrawn from the race. "Rural America is hurting," Coleman said. "There aren't a lot of jobs there. Everything has been stagnated by the economy." Coleman said he would push for a way to allow illegal immigrants to earn citizenship by paying taxes. They must learn English, Coleman said. "Jobs are the number one issue," Coleman said. "We need jobs before we need highways. Big business has overpowered us."