Who is Travis Childers? Well, he's the Democrat from Mississippi who inspired the following headlines Wednesday morning:
USA Today: Republicans fear public has lost confidence
MSNBC: GOPers stomping mad over prospects
RealClearPolitics: House GOP shifts into panic mode
Yes, Travis Childers, Chancery Clerk of Prentiss County, Mississippi has induced panic and despair in the Republican party. He accomplished this by winning the special election for Mississippi's 1st congressional district on Tuesday night by a comfortable 54-46 margin.
This is a district that the GOP should have had no trouble holding onto after it became vacant when Republican Roger Wicker was appointed to the Senate to replace retiring Republican Trent Lott. The Republican candidate, Greg Davis, raised a lot of money and was largely scandal-free yet lost badly in a district that President Bush carried by twenty five points in 2004.
This is the third Republican House seat Democrats have picked up this spring. The first two were former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert's in Illinois, and Louisiana's 6th district. At least in those races, Republicans could console themselves with the fact that those districts were only mildly Republican, and also with the fact that their nominees were carrying a lot of personal baggage that made them less than ideal candidates.
The GOP pulled out every stop to win. Governor Haley Barbour, Senators Cochran and Wicker, and even Vice President Cheney campaigned with Davis. The Party committed over $1 million it couldn't afford from its meager resources, and independent groups contributed upwards of $1 million more. Furthermore, the Party rolled out a new strategy of attempting to tie every Democratic candidate to those elitist liberals, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.
None of it worked, they got slaughtered. Now Republicans are clueless as to how to change their image so as to offer some appeal to voters. Amidst all the talk of how Republicans can rebuild their brand, the Wall Street Journal has had the audacity to suggest that -GASP!- Republicans actually consider trying to run the government in a competent manner by at least pretending to be "doing something about health care, gas prices, and so on." It looks increasingly like the 2008 election will resemble the kind of tidal wave victories that Franklin Roosevelt engineered in the 1930's. Yes we can!