Childers in Iraq, on guns, on energy

Tupelo Daily Journal - Childers recounts amazing' experiences in Iraq - With just one full day in Iraq under his belt, U.S. Rep. Travis Childers already had some stories to tell. The newly elected Democrat from Prentiss County flew to Iraq as part of an official congressional delegation Friday to visit troops, political leaders and communities in locations occupied by U.S. soldiers. "It's just been an amazing day, absolutely amazing day," Childers said in a phone conference with reporters Sunday afternoon. He and five other members of Congress arrived in Kuwait City on Saturday, Iraq time, and spent Sunday traveling across Iraq. The first trip was to Baghdad via a C-130 cargo plane. After a security briefing, the group went to see a facility featuring MRAPS, or mine-resistant ambush-protected armored vehicles. "(It) is very interesting to me, partly because one of the MRAPS, possibly two of them, various ones, were made in our district in North Mississippi, in West Point, Clay County, Miss.," he said, referring to the armored vehicles designed to survive roadside bombs. "I had a great visit with the men there. I have some wonderful pictures of the MRAPS in action." The next stop was Fallujah via an V-22 Osprey, a military plane with the features of a helicopter. There the delegation attended a briefing on the economic recovery program at an American command center before having lunch with soldiers from Mississippi. "I had a great visit with them," Childers said. "It gave me an opportunity to say...how much North Mississippians appreciate them, not only today but always." Later the group met for counter-improvised explosive device training. "They showed us a lot of the IEDs, just how clever (terrorists) are with them," Childers said. The day closed with another meal with soldiers. "It not only made me proud to be American, but it made me proud to be a North Mississippian, knowing we have young men and women who are willing to serve and serve our country," Childers said. This is the first trip to Iraq for Childers, the former Prentiss County chancery clerk was was elected to Congress in a special election in May. The group he is traveling with consists of three Democrats and three Republicans. During his campaign, Childers advocated bringing troops home soon while providing them with material support until that happens.

CottonMouth posts that contrary to "attack ads ran by the NRCC that implied that Childers once elected would start pushing 'Speaker Pelosi's liberal agenda'" that he ran as a pro-gun candidate and "looks to remain that way". CM quotes Childers from the Sun Herald, "I believe the right to bear arms is a fundamental freedom, and I am proud to support legislation to protect the civil liberties of gun owners in north Mississippi and throughout the nation." CottonMouth - Travis Childers on Supreme Court gun ruling

TheConservativeView says Childers "rejected a real energy solution" and instead joined Democrats who "chose to insult the American people by offering sham bills". TCV quotes a NRCC spokesman, "It’s become astoundingly clear that Travis Childers and his Democrat leaders have no direction and no hope for solving the nation’s energy crisis. The American people demand action and accountability for record-high gas prices and Travis Childers has responded by sitting on his hands while his party plays political games.” TheConservativeView - Travis Childers Rejects Alternative Energy Proposal


Davis in Southaven; Childers in Congress

Memphis Commercial Appeal - Audit reveals $5.2 million surplus for Southaven - Economic woes don't appear to be affecting the City of Southaven's bottom line so far. The city's annual audit shows a surplus of $5.2 million for fiscal 2007, about $2.2 million of which is already committed to ongoing projects. Mayor Greg Davis presented the financial report at Tuesday's Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. The report was prepared by the accounting firm of Williams, Pitts and Beard of Hernando. Davis told aldermen the city is in good enough shape that it has used about $3.2 million in cash to fund its capital improvement projects rather than issuing bonds to finance them. The improvement projects include renovating the old M.R. Davis Library and performing upgrades at Snowden Grove Park. Major expenditures for the city included $14 million for public safety. Sales taxes remained the largest single revenue item at $11 million, and Southaven Towne Center was credited with the continued growth in sales tax revenue for the city.

Sun Herald Washington Bureau - House bill breaks logjam on rebuilding public housing
Removes HUD, FEMA conflict
- Just two weeks after a critical joint House committee hearing, the House on Wednesday approved a bill to break a federal impasse on rebuilding public housing after a disaster. The bill, which was done on a bipartisan basis and passed on a voice vote, removes a conflict between FEMA and the Housing and Urban Development Administration over funding. The Public Housing Disaster Relief Act, (H.R. 6276), would remove the HUD program to make way for the FEMA funding. Newly elected U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, R-Miss., who was a floor manager of the bill, said it represented "a common sense approach" to remove the barrier that "has stalled federal dollars" from being used to rebuild the Coast after Hurricane Katrina. House Financial Institutions Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said, "This is no special deal for Louisiana and Mississippi. This simply provides public housing's fair share."

JFP Interview

Excerpts from the Jackson Free Press interview with Representative Travis Childers - Childers Unplugged

Did you ask for them? How does that work?
I asked for Agriculture, because when Bennie Thompson was moved up to take over the Homeland Security Committee, it left a vacancy as far as Mississippi went on the Agricultural Committee. ... And that wouldn’t do, because agriculture is still such an important industry in the state.

So you filled a hole there?
Yeah. I felt like I owed it to the people of Mississippi. They need a voice on Agriculture. I’m the new kid on the block, so I figured I’d step up. (Pelosi) placed me on the Financial Services Committee because I’m a businessman. I have a business background. I’ve been a businessman for 31 years, since I was in junior college, so she felt my being a realtor for all that time made the committee a good place for me, and I concur. I’m very pleased with my two assignments.

You know, a lot of grumpy local Republican types seem to think you owe your victory in MS-01 to a rivalry between the Tupelo dirt-haulers and the uppity refugees fleeing Memphis for the Mississippi suburbs in Desoto County.
I know that. I’ve heard all those things they said, but I think it was more a matter of having two clearly distinct personalities in the race. There wasn’t much crossover from people saying, “Well, I kind of like “em both.” There wasn’t much of that, I don’t think. We stood for two totally different segments and two different groups of people. Travis Childers stood for working families. The other guy did not, and it showed. The good thing about that, of course, is there are a lot more working people than anybody else. The working people felt passionate enough about their future and nervous enough about their financial situation to turn out to vote, and you can bet I’m the most appreciative and grateful congressman in this 435-member House.

Getting back to Desoto County, you did find some love there, too, didn’t you?
I sure did. I’m glad somebody noticed that. Let me tell you: My home county (Prentiss) gave me 85 percent of the vote, and I say that with all the humility in my body, but I also got 25 or so percent in Desoto County—that’s the other guy’s home. I got about 5,000 or 6,000 votes there.

Quite the independent, apparently. I notice, for instance, that you haven’t endorsed any presidential candidates, yet. Do you plan to?
Here’s my situation. We’ve been without a congressman for five long months in North Mississippi. We’ve had no representation. Granted, we had our two U.S. senators, but the system’s not set up for long vacancies. For five months we’ve done without. I just feel like the people that I serve and the people I represent want me to get busy with the business of the First Congressional District, represent their interest, and I don’t think they want me meddling in presidential politics, because every hour I spend on any other subject, other than the First District of Mississippi, is an hour away from issues concerning the people I serve.

Can’t spare the 30 minutes to write an endorsement, eh?
Mississippians are an independent-minded group of people, and as far as I’m concerned, they are free to vote for whomever they want to for president. I hope they choose me as their congressman, but that’s about where my personal preferences should stop as far as the voters go. Mind you, I am a Democrat. I don’t think people question my Democratic credentials, but I really don’t want to wade off into this issue, because when I do that, I think it detracts from my mission to be the best congressman this district has ever had.

I know you do a lot of work in the mortgage market. What condition is the market in right now?
Just recently I was named to the Capital Markets Subcommittee, in the Financial Services Committee. I literally got the last seat on that subcommittee, and I can’t wait to pick up on the information coming through that subcommittee. I think it will help me get a greater understanding of what’s going on with the mortgage problems in America.

From what you know already, is there one place to lay the blame, or was this collapse due to a combination of factors?
A lot of lenders and mortgage companies were preying on people who normally would not be able to have afforded the mortgages they were shooting for, but the lender somehow made it work, but then ran the interest rates way, way up. As in most situations, there’s a lot of blame to pass around, but I just don’t think this administration has done everything it can, in a quick enough fashion, to address the issue.

Some would say perhaps the borrowers shouldn’t have engaged in risky loans that allowed them to lie about their income. What’s your response?
I always want to be on the side of the working folks, but working folks sometimes make mistakes, too. Yes, in all honesty, there probably were some folks who weren’t totally truthful in their quest for a loan, and they’re now, sadly, paying the price. But I still think we could have done more to soften the blow. Before Congress adjourns for the year, I think you’ll see some action taken. I can’t give you any real details this early, but I want to be a part of the solution.


Childers District Offices

Cotton Mouth has the press release Congressman Childers sent out on the location of his district offices. The Commerical Appeal does a piece on it today as well.


Financial Services and the Mortgage Crisis

"We face tough times. We face challenges to small businesses and struggles to create jobs. We need a congressman who understands tough times, has started businesses, and created jobs. We need Travis Childers . Our leaders should have been thinking of the economic problems we face today when they passed unfair trade deals that sent our jobs overseas, gave billions in subsidies to big oil companies, ignored the home mortgage crisis, and kept spending as the deficit and national debt hit all time highs." - "Travis On The Issues" at ChildersForCongress.com

Rep. Travis Childers sits on the House Committee on Financial Services. Yesterday, another member of that committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) called for hearings regarding lawmakers who received discount mortgage deals from Countrywide Financial Corporation. Reports say Senators Chris Dodd (D-Conn) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) received VIP discounts on their mortgages from Countrywide and additional members may be involved. A spokesman for Rep. Barney Franks (D-Mass), the Financial Services chairman, said Franks is "not inclined to jump on this — he’s focused on legislation and will leave issues like this to other oversight committees.”

Joining Hensarling is a great opportunity for Childers to not ignore the home mortgage crisis and to work in a bipartisan way to bring real change to Washington.

Childers no underdog in fundraising

Daily Journal - Reports show Childers drew key late funds - Travis Childers of Booneville may have looked like the underdog going into a May 13 special congressional election against Southaven Mayor Greg Davis. But a surge in contributions from individuals, political action committees and his political party helped him win the 1st District congressional seat, Federal Election Commission reports filed this week show. In the end, Democrat Childers out-raised and out-spent Republican Davis. Thursday was the deadline for both campaigns to report their non-party special election spending. A look at the reports, covering finances from April 24 through June 2, shows where Childers got his help:

- He raised about $200,000 more from individuals than Davis.
- PACS favored him by more than a $320,000 margin.
- And the Democratic National Congressional Committee poured on $500,000 more cash than Davis' National Republican Congressional Committee.

For the Childers-Davis contest, national Democrats spent $1.84 million compared with national Republicans' $1.29 million. By the time that campaign was over, their campaigns were fairly even with money in the bank, even though Davis had out-raised and out-spent Childers nearly 2-1. The FEC reports show that while Davis out-raised Childers across a series of four elections, his finances slipped when he needed them most - the special election runoff to decide who would hold the House seat through 2008. Davis and Childers, who won their party nominations, face each other in the Nov. 4 general election to decide which will serve a complete two-year term. Both campaigns still have debt issues to deal with:

- Childers loaned himself $150,000.
- Davis borrowed $55,000 - most of it against his home.

Childers reported nearly $35,000 post-election contributions, while Davis reported zero.

Childers discloses finances

Clarion Ledger - Miss. House delegation offers data on income, assets - Rep. Travis Childers got a raise when he was sworn in to Congress according to financial records released Monday. Childers earned $89,310 last year as a member of the Prentiss County Board of Supervisors. He also earned $10,033 from his real estate business and $29,477 from chancery clerk fees. As a freshman member of the House, he earns $169,300. Childers, a Democrat elected in May to represent the 1st District, listed assets valued between $1.7 million and $4 million on the financial disclosure statements released Monday. His assets included wife Tami's interest in a nursing home in Booneville, a waterfront home on Pickwick Lake, a condo in Oxford and hundreds of acres of timberland. Some of Childers' properties are mortgaged. He reported owing between $946,000 and $1.25 million in mortgage loans.


Childers thanks Tennessee Dems

The Tennessee Democratic Party blog posts this message from Congressman Childers to Tennessee Democrats -

To the Tennessee Democratic Party and Democrats throughout the state,

Please allow me to take a minute to publicly thank the Tennessee Democratic Party for its tireless efforts to make me the newest member of the United States House of Representatives. As I come to work each day, walking these hallowed halls, I realize that it took the help of so many people, including Tennessee Democrats, to help make possible this historic achievement. And it was historic.I became the first Congressman in American history to run four elections in only sixty-three days! Those campaigns were hard-fought and a great bridge of camaraderie was built between the great States of Tennessee and Mississippi. As Congressman John Tanner walked side by side with me on the campaign trail, we brought the true American values back to the people.

Congressman Lincoln Davis and Congressman Jim Cooper both answered the call for a fellow “Blue Dog” Democrat and helped carry us over the top. Then, there was the unwavering support of Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman, Gray Sasser and his staff. Without the help of fellow Tennessee Democrats, our victory would have been even more difficult, if not impossible.

But as much as I have enjoyed celebrating this victory, the campaign trail had its sobering moments. As we traveled those roads and back roads, so many people told us of hardship and heart break, of difficulties involving the loss of jobs and financial hardships because of the lack of affordable health care. But I believe there is change sweeping. And I believe that our victory on May 13, 2008 was not only a harbinger of change for the State of Mississippi, but the nation as well. People raised their voices for a new direction of hope and prosperity.

Throughout history, our party has shown that we stand for the working families, for fairness and equality. From Andrew Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt, from James K. Polk to John F. Kennedy, the Democratic Party has been concerned that all citizens have an opportunity for social and economic prosperity. And once more, is ready to rightfully reassume its mantle as the moral leader of the world.

Jackson Day is now over, but in the work to spread the message of hope has just begun. Speak to those who have the Blues on Beale. Reach out to those who are holding down the family farm. Take the spirit of Old Hickory with you into the rolling hills of middle Tennessee. March up Rocky Top and down the Lookout, determined to get this nation back on track, to bring much needed change. I had my time. But this is your time. The political experts said I was attempting the impossible, but I proved them wrong with old fashioned hard work and dedication and reliance on friends.

Take it from me: Don’t let anyone tell you that your cause is unjust or too difficult. Roll up your sleeves, dust off the boots and begin the journey for change not only in Tennessee, but in the nation as well.

-Congressman Travis W. Childers


Sticking to his knitting?

The Hill - Some Hill Dems won't endorse Obama - The presidential race may be topic A, B and C in Washington these days, but some people are just too busy to think about it — particularly, it seems, centrist Democrats from conservative districts, who aren’t exactly eager to align themselves with Sen. Barack Obama. Rep. Travis Childers, elected just weeks ago in a Mississippi special election, hasn’t endorsed anyone in the presidential race yet. “We have had our head down at work, trying to get our feet on the ground up here,” said Childers’ chief of staff, Brad Morris. “The presidential politics just has not been on our mind.”

Capitol Hill Blue - Some Dems hesitant about Obama - Nothing personal, Sen. Obama, but our re-election comes first. Barack Obama, for all his attention and primary successes, does not go over so well in a fair number of Democratic lawmakers' home districts. So it seems there is little chance that some will endorse him for president.

Some are counting on Republican votes in their re-election bids. Some are newly minted and in rematches with 2006 opponents. Some may be wary of how their constituents will react to a black presidential candidate. Some, too, have made it a practice of distancing themselves from the national party, fearing the inevitable campaign ad that has their face morphing into Howard Dean, the party chairman, and Obama. "They are all scared to death about getting beat by a Republican," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., one of Obama's most prominent supporters. "I don't think that if the good Lord himself had been nominated as a Democrat that some of those folks would have endorsed him. They are afraid of looking too much like a Democrat because of the kind of districts they're from."

Republican campaign strategists already have shown they want to link Democratic candidates with Obama and other national figures, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor. In special elections last month in Mississippi and Louisiana, Democratic candidates Travis Childers and Don Cazayoux faced television ads attempting to make those connections. But Childers and Cazayoux won surprise victories, raising questions about the strategy's effectiveness. Still, Childers is staying out of the presidential race, as is his fellow Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor. Cazayoux recently announced he is backing Obama.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a Democratic House leader who helped orchestrate the party's strategy for winning control of Congress in 2006, argues against reading too much into the holdouts. He said most of them always stay out of national politics and that the party is generally unified around Obama. "They're just going to stick to their knitting," he said. "It's not that they're anti-Obama."


The left and pro-life Democrats

RH Reality Check - Dana Goldstein - The New Anti-Choice Democrats: Can We Work With Them? - In a campaign TV advertisement, Don Cazayoux, introduced voters to his parents, Don Sr. and Ann. "We thought you should know what he learned growing up," Ann Cazayoux said. As photographs of Don Jr. with babies flashed across the screen, she continued, "We taught him every life is precious." The words "Pro-life" appeared in the bottom left hand corner. Indeed, trumpeting broad opposition to abortion rights was a key strategy of Cazayoux's campaign. Meanwhile, in north Mississippi, Democrat Travis Childers was making a similar case. "Keep this in mind," Childers said matter of factly in one ad. "I'm pro-life and pro-gun." On May 14, Childers, too, was elected to Congress, in a district where 62 percent of voters had supported Bush's reelection.

In a reproductive health dream world, pro-choice Democrats would have been elected in Lousiana's eighth district and Mississippi's first. Given widespread anger with the Bush administration and its conservative policies, maybe Childers and Cazayoux could have moderated their abortion positions and still cruised to victory. But in reality, reassuring conservative Southern voters about core social issues was likely the only way Nancy Pelosi could have added these two seats to her total. And by preserving a continued Democratic majority in the House, Cazayoux and Childers, whatever their personal opinions on abortion, ensure that bills restraining choice will largely stay off the legislative docket. The last major Congressional vote seeking to restrict American women's reproductive rights occurred in 2006, when Republicans were still in control.

On later-term abortions, parental notification, and federal funding for abortion, pro-choicers may need to part ways with the Cazayouxs and Childerses of the world. We should do so respectfully and without alienating them or their supporters. Just by being Democrats from the South, these politicians are giving reproductive rights a major lift. By rebuilding progressivism in that region, they ensure that more Democrats -- some of them pro-choice -- will receive a fair hearing when they run for office. But for that to happen, "Democrat" can't be a scary word. Guys like Cazayoux and Childers help make that transition happen.


Childers votes with Republicans on budget

The Hill - House OKs $3.1 trillion spending plan; fate of approps bills remains uncertain - House Democrats squeaked through a $3.1 trillion spending map that outlines the party’s spending priorities through the next five years and the next president’s term. Most Democrats applauded the measure, but Republicans derided it as a guaranteed recipe for historic tax increases. The 214-210 vote Thursday on the 2009 budget compromise, Congress’s first election-year budget in eight years, also showed that the Democrats’ expanding majority in the House is still volatile. Although Democrats held together a majority of the Blue Dog coalition — winning the votes of 38 of the 47 fiscally conservative lawmakers — they lost the votes of the three newest members of their caucus. Reps. Don Cazayoux (D-La.), Travis Childers (D-Miss.) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.) — all elected from Republican districts in special elections this year — voted against the conference report on the budget. The three newest House members joined 11 other Democrats — including nine Blue Dogs — in voting against the majority. Not a single Republican voted for the budget resolution.

Roll Call - Some Blue Dogs Balk on Budget - Fiscally conservative Democrats made their feelings known about spending in the $3 trillion fiscal 2009 budget blueprint, which narrowly passed the House on Thursday. Blue Dogs made up the bulk of the 14 Democrats who sided with Republicans in opposing the resolution, which squeaked by on a 214-210 vote. They were also a chunk of the seven Democrats not voting at all. No Republicans voted for the resolution. Democrats who voted against the budget plan were Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Dan Cazayoux (La.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Bill Foster, (Ill.), Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Nick Lampson (Texas), Jim Matheson (Utah), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.) and Patrick Murphy (Pa.).

Of those, nine are part of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and three — Cazayoux, Childers and Foster — are recent special election winners in previously Republican districts. Of the seven Democrats who voted “present” on the budget bill, three are Blue Dogs: Reps. Melissa Bean (Ill.), Jim Marshall (Ga.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.).

Despite the close vote, Blue Dog leaders subsequently issued a statement praising the budget plan for seeking to eliminate wasteful spending and for adhering to pay-as-you-go rules. Blue Dog Co-Chairman Mike Ross (D-Ark.) described the measure as “a fiscally responsible, PAYGO-compliant budget resolution.” “The Blue Dogs take our commitment to fiscal responsibility very seriously, and this budget conference report is another example of how Democrats are working to live up to this commitment,” said Blue Dog Co-Chairman Allen Boyd (D-Fla.).


Frontline Childers

Roll Call - Mississippi: DCCC on Front Lines With Its Newcomer - The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wasted little time naming the party’s most recent House addition, Rep. Travis Childers, to its “Frontline” program, which raises money for vulnerable incumbents. After spending more than $1.5 million on Childers’ special election campaign, the DCCC is intent on protecting its investment. DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said in a statement on Monday that Childers “has hit the ground running to serve the people of North Mississippi concerned about rising gas prices and the struggling economy. ... The Frontline Program will give Congressman Childers an added boost so he can continue focusing on the issues his constituents care most about and representing their values in Washington.”

Roll Call - And a Childers Shall Lead Them - Much has been made in recent days of the work Democratic pollster John Anzalone did for newly elected Rep. Travis Childers (D) in his special election victory in the solidly Republican 1st district of Mississippi. But Childers’ media consultant in that race, Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle Inc., has also received credit for the former Prentiss County Chancery Clerk’s win over Southaven Mayor Greg Davis (R) in a district that strongly supported President Bush in 2004. “This was the result of an incredible team effort,” FRCR President John Rowley said in a statement. “We had the perfect candidate with an amazing group of people helping him on the ground in Mississippi.”
FRCR is based in Nashville, Tenn., and at least one of the Democratic firm’s clients — Doña Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley (D), running in New Mexico’s GOP-leaning 2nd district — noted while unveiling his latest television ad that the spot was created by the same team that advised Childers in the Mississippi special. FRCR is composed of partners William Fletcher, the firm’s CEO; Rowley, the firm’s president; Ben Chao, who recently served as national political director for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s (D) presidential bid; and Mark Riddle, who in 2006 served as executive director of the Kentucky Democratic Party. The Democratic Members on FRCR’s client roster who serve in House districts that voted for Bush in 2004 include Reps. Charlie Melancon (La.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Zack Space (Ohio) and Tim Mahoney (Fla.).

Roll Call - Freedom’s Watch Hitting Democrats With Robocalls - Freedom’s Watch, the conservative issue advocacy group, began placing robocalls into the districts of several Democratic Members of Congress this afternoon, criticizing them for failing to finalize an Iraq War spending bill. The calls were expected to run through the Memorial Day recess. Targeted by the calls: Democratic Reps. Harry Mitchell (Ariz.), Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Bob Filner (Calif.), Joe Courtney (Conn.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), Don Cazayoux (La.), Steny Hoyer (Md.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Shelley Berkley (Nev.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Joe Sestak (Pa.), Patrick Murphy (Pa.), Christopher Carney (Pa.), John Murtha (Pa.) and Nick Lampson (Texas).