By Bobby Harrison
JACKSON – Former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, a Booneville Democrat, has yet to decide whether he will enter the race for U.S. Senate.
“I have not made a decision,” was the only response from the former Prentiss County chancery clerk recently when asked whether he would enter the fray to replace veteran U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
The Republican Cochran, 76, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, is facing a primary challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, who has strong backing from various Tea Party-related groups.
In past elections, Democrats have been reluctant to challenge the popular Cochran. But some believe Cochran could face a challenge from McDaniel in the more conservative-leaning Republican primary that will be held June 3.
At the very least the Republican primary is expected to be contentious.
Privately, Democrats believe they would have a better chance of victory in the November general election against McDaniel.
Many believe Childers is the likely candidate to enter the fray, and he acknowledged he would have to decide soon since the qualifying deadline is March 1.
“I feel confident we will have a competitive candidate in the U.S. Senate race,” Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole said Friday.
Cole would not say who that candidate might be. Vicksburg resident Bill Marcy, who has run unsuccessfully in two elections as a Republican for Congress, has said he is switching parties to run for the U.S. Senate.
It is anticipated that Democrats will try to field a candidate other than Marcy.
But state Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, viewed as a possible candidate, has indicated he will not run for the national post. Both Attorney General Jim Hood and Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley already have removed their names from consideration. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is a possibility, but not likely.
Childers served a little more than one term in the House, being elected in first a special election and then the regular election. He was defeated two years later by state Sen. Alan Nunnelee as part of the strong national showing for Republicans in the 2010 mid-term elections.