Congressional Race

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 28, 2010

State senator is biggest target in coming primary

By Billy Davis

“Alan Nunnelee changes positions on taxes as quickly as most people change shirts,” a Democratic Party spokesman said in January, when Nunnelee was seen as the most likely candidate to face U.S. Rep. Travis Childers in the November 2 General Election.

Four months later, not much has changed. Nunnelee, of Tupelo, is still perceived as the frontrunner in a three-way Republican Primary that could be decided next Tuesday.

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Voters in Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Panola, go to the polls June 1.

And Democrats are still taking aim.

The Mississippi Democratic Party, earlier this month, launched a series of stories mocking the “budget legacy” of Nunnelee. He chairs the Appropriations Committee in the Mississippi Senate, making his voting record, especially in lean economic times, a prime target for his opponents.

The first “report” by state Democrats criticized Nunnelee for voting to raise state employee contributions to Mississippi’s pension system, though Democrats in the state House helped pass the bill, too.

The political attack in January came when Nunnelee voted for a hospital bed tax and voted to raise the state tax on cigarettes by 50 cents.

Republicans viewed the January attack as an attempt to stir early opposition against Nunnelee, since conservatives historically oppose tax increases. Such opposition, if it caught on, could have repeated the political bloodbath from 2008, when a fractured GOP helped Childers win the 1st District seat.

Not surprisingly, the Nunnelee campaign views the political shots as evidence that Democrats fear a Nunnelee-Childers match-up.

“The Democrats are nervous,” Morgan Baldwin, general consultant for the Nunnelee campaign, told The Panolian.

In the 1st District, a Nunnelee-Childers face-off is not a sure thing. He faces Angela McGlowan, of Oxford, and Henry Ross, of Eupora, for the GOP nomination.

Between McGlowan and Ross, McGlowan may be the better-known candidate across the 1st District. She worked as a political analyst on Fox News, is a published author, and has served as a legislative aide in Congress. She oversees a public relations and lobbying firm, Political Strategies and Insights.  

Ross, a practicing attorney, boasts a lengthy resume as well. He has served as assistant district attorney, circuit judge, and mayor of Eupora. He served briefly in the Bush administration and retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve, with the rank of commander, after 21 years.

“We were pretty impressed with all three candidates,” Kay Cobb, chairman of Tea Party Oxford, told The Panolian this week.

The Oxford-based group interviewed Nunnelee, McGlowan and Ross on the eve of the GOP primary, with an intention to inform voters of their views, said Cobb, the former Mississippi Supreme Court justice.

The candidates’ questions and answers are posted on the group’s Web site, A portion of the questions are printed on page A11 of The Panolian.

Questions ranged from social issues, the 2nd Amendment and taxes to immigration and the role of the federal government.

Tea Party Oxford is not endorsing a candidate, Cobb said.

“Our purpose is to inform people, not tell them how to vote,” she said. “It’s a shame when somebody walks in to vote, doesn’t know about the issues, and just chooses a name. That’s a wasted vote.”