Mississippi GOP won't let history repeat in 2010 primary

Mississippi Republicans are confident the party will rally around its eventual nominee to face Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.).

Two years ago, the primary left many activists with hurt feelings and caused a regional divide that lingered until Southaven Mayor Greg Davis's final defeat to Childers in the general election.

"The Republican primary got out of hand. We shot ourselves in the foot," Brad White, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, told The Ballot Box. "The Republicans gave that race to Travis Childers."

There was some concern among Republicans this cycle that the entry of former Fox News commentator Angela McGlowan (R) into the 1st district primary would spark similar tension. She faces state Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R) and former Eupora Mayor Herman Ross for the nomination. Nunnelee is one of the National Republican Congressional Committee's top prospects.

Even with the big personalities mixing it up in the primary, Republicans have been pleased with the level of debate.

"I haven't seen anything that would indicate to me that our primary this year is shaping up like the primary two years ago did," said White, who became chairman in September 2008. "I'm hopeful that it will continue like it's been being -- that you have your normal differences of opinion but nothing to really make me see anything that's going to be problematic."

The primary vote is June 1.

In the meantime, Democrats are trying to soften up Nunnelee by tying him to unpopular budget cuts passed by the state Legislature last month.

"He's shortchanged law enforcement and is now forcing cuts to teachers that will hurt students in Aberdeen and Grenada, among others," Sam Hall, executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party, said in a statement. "It's becoming increasingly clear that Alan Nunnelee's legacy is a danger to Mississippi's future."

White said Nunnelee won't be hurt by the state's austere budget.

"I just think that [Democrats are] over charging and over politicizing a lot of real issues and I don't think it catches any traction," he said. "They're having to make some real tough decisions and tough decisions are never popular, but they're still necessary."

The party's attacks won't influence GOP primary voters, White added. "If Alan Nunnelee doesn't fair well in the election it's because the voters in the Republican primary thought that one of the other two candidates were better, not because of anything the Mississippi Democrat Party said."

More in Ballot Box

Iowa GOP won't take sides in caucuses

Read more »