Commercial Appeal - 'Every vote counts' to Davis - Southaven Mayor Greg Davis captured nearly 71 percent of DeSoto County's Republican vote in the March 11 primary for the state's 1st District House seat, but that didn't stop him from canvassing his home county hard on the first day of spring last week. "Every vote counts," Davis, who actually got 70.9 percent, said at the Forever Young Seniors monthly luncheon in Southaven, where he was the guest speaker. "We're hitting all areas of the district, no matter how many votes came out of the primary."
Davis, 42, knows it's important to not take any vote for granted in what is likely an uphill battle to defeat former Tupelo mayor and Tennessee Valley Authority chairman Glenn McCullough, 53, in an April 1 runoff for the Republican nomination. Despite Davis' commanding DeSoto County lead over McCullough and a third Republican candidate in the primary, Davis finished second districtwide on March 11. He finished with about 37 percent of the vote, compared to about 39 percent for McCullough. Further complicating things for Davis is the fact that the third candidate in the primary, Dr. Randy Russell of Oxford, has thrown his support to McCullough. Russell received about 24 percent of the vote.
McCullough has positioned himself as the "true conservative" candidate, a strategy that seemed to hit home and help him gain momentum in the sprawling district that covers much of northeast Mississippi. "Glenn's campaign has the momentum because of his values and his stance on taxes," Brad Davis, McCullough's campaign manager and no relation to Greg Davis, said in a statement.
Greg Davis said he isn't deterred, however, because he's confident in the voters and their ability to decide for themselves. That's why, over the past two weeks, Davis has put 4,000 miles on his Pontiac. In one day, he went to four events, crisscrossing DeSoto County. He also debated McCullough in Aberdeen on Thursday night, and he rallied 100 volunteers in Corinth in Alcorn County Friday before attending an Ole Miss baseball game in Oxford on Saturday night. "I've been to all the counties in the district," Davis said.
Another factor that could work to Davis' disadvantage was the large crossover vote in the primary, in which many DeSoto County voters who might have supported his candidacy chose to vote in the Democratic primary instead so that they could vote in the hotly contested presidential race between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The problem for Davis is that those who crossed over cannot now cross back to support him in the runoff. That's a fact that many potential voters told Davis they did not realize when they voted Democratic. "The crossover voting is a huge issue," Davis acknowledged, but he said he's not disillusioned by it. Instead, Davis told the more than 100 seniors gathered at the Tennis Center that his campaign is now after those who didn't vote at all in the primary. He estimated that some 20,000 voters in the county didn't turn out.
Davis also received a boost last week from Trent Lott, the former senator whose December retirement announcement set in motion the moves that opened up the House seat. Lott endorsed Davis by donating $8,000 to his campaign. "Over the course of the 18 years I have served in public office, I had the distinct privilege of working alongside Sen. Lott on many projects important to our District," Davis said, "and his support of my campaign is a sign of good things to come."