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Will GOP Defeat In Third Special Congressional Election Force Leadership Shakeup?

May 14, 2008

If you see a downhearted Republican today take a moment and give them a hug.  They are down in the dumps today.  Not because of the news coming out of Iraq, or the fact their SUV’s suck so much gasoline, but over the big news last night that took place in Mississippi. 

Democrat Travis Childers won Tuesday’s Mississippi special election runoff for Sen. Roger Wicker’s (R) former House seat, handing Democrats the biggest of their three special election takeovers this cycle and sending a listless GOP further into a state of disarray.

Childers led GOP candidate Greg Davis 53-47 with more than 90 percent of precincts reporting. Turnout increased substantially over the 67,000 voters who cast ballots in the April 22 open special election, with more than 100,000 voting in the runoff.

Childers, who beat Davis 49-46 three weeks ago but came up just shy of a race-ending majority, joins new Democratic Reps. Bill Foster (Ill.) and Don Cazayoux (La.) to give Democrats a trifecta of upsets in conservative House districts over the last two months.

The loss could send shockwaves through the Republican Party, where murmurs about a leadership shakeup have become more and more audible.

Democrats are backing up the assertion that they remain on the offensive in the cycle following a 30-seat gain, which has historically not been the case after a “wave” election.

“After three consecutive special election defeats in districts President Bush twice won easily, it is abundantly clear the American people have turned their back and shut the door on the special interest-driven agenda of the Republican Party,” said the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “There is no district that is safe for Republican candidates because President Bush’s failed policies have hurt every community in America.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), issued a somber and self-reflective statement following the loss, saying Republicans were “disappointed” and that they need to prepare to run against Democrats campaigning as conservatives.

“Though the Democrats’ task will be more difficult in a November election, the fact is they have pulled off two special election victories with this strategy” in Louisiana and Mississippi “and it should be a concern to all Republicans,” Cole said.

Cole added that “the political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general. Therefore, Republicans must undertake bold efforts to define a forward-looking agenda that offers the kind of positive change voters are looking for. This is something we can do in cooperation with our presidential nominee, but time is short.”

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