CQ: Moves race from "Safe Republican" to "Leans Republican"

CQpolitics - Departure of Popular GOP Incumbent Puts Mississippi House Seat in Play - The conservative leanings and usual Republican voting tendencies in northern Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District would appear to give a strong advantage to front-running GOP candidate Greg Davis in his bid for Congress. Yet Democrats insist that divisions within the district’s Republican ranks that surfaced during a recent primary campaign — and the emergence of Travis Childers, a local official with a conservative profile, as the leading Democratic candidate — gives them a shot at the seat that seven-term Republican incumbent Roger Wicker vacated in December after his appointment to the U.S. Senate.

Some Mississippi political analysts say the Democrats’ optimism may not be misplaced. “I even get some raised eyebrows around here when I say a Democrat can win in the 1st District,” said Marty Wiseman, a well-known authority on Mississippi politics who directs the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. “But it’s not unreasonable to say it’s too close to call.”

CQ Politics is changing its rating of the race to Leans Republican from Safe Republican. The new rating reflects the competitive nature of the race, but identifies Davis as the candidate who holds an edge.

“Everybody realizes that we have a nominee and we are going to get behind that nominee to maintain this seat,” said Brad White, the state Republican Party’s executive director and incoming chairman.

White described as “just rhetoric” the Democrats’ contention that they could win this year. “This would be the first legitimate shot they’ve had of electing someone, because there was no way they were ever going to defeat Roger Wicker ,” White said. “But to say that’s it’s just a given, I think that’s just a lot of talk coming out of the Democratic Party simply because it’s an open seat.”

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