Mississippi and other longtime strongholds could go Democratic this fall. Obama’s candidacy is a boost.
By Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 6, 2008
WASHINGTON — Mississippi, one of the nation’s most conservative states, has not elected a Democratic senator in a quarter-century. It has voted for Republican presidential candidates in the last seven elections.
But this year, there is a real chance that the state will send a Democrat to the Senate.
That prospect is a window onto a remarkable political trend that has been eclipsed by the fireworks surrounding the 2008 presidential contest: Democrats are running strong Senate campaigns in states such as Mississippi, Alaska and North Carolina that Republicans have long taken for granted.
The outlook for the GOP is so grim that party leaders have readily conceded there is no chance they can regain control of the Senate in 2008, even though Democrats’ current majority is slim, 51-49.
“If you have an R in front of your name, you better run scared,” said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who says the party will do well if it holds its losses to three or four seats.
The Mississippi race between Democratic former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and Republican Sen. Roger Wicker distills the wide range of factors that have put congressional Republicans in their weakest position since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s.