At a meeting two weeks ago to discuss the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) offered what he said was a “minor observation” regarding how the committee should proceed in terms of involvement in Mississippi’s 1st district Republican primary.
“I simply cautioned that with a potential contested primary, with a new candidate coming in, we might want to give some time to see how the situation develops,” said Davis, who is helping in the NRCC’s recruiting efforts this cycle.
That new GOP candidate is Fox News political commentator Angela McGlowan, who met with Davis about a bid against Rep. Travis Childers (D) and is now set to join the GOP field as soon as next week.
But Davis’ comment has irked some Mississippi and Capitol Hill GOP operatives, who believe the party has already found it’s best possible candidate in state Sen. Alan Nunnelee.
“When there’s such a prime opportunity to take out a Democratic incumbent, I don’t see the logic of Geoff Davis going out there and being supportive of anybody other than the guy who has already gone out there and outraised and outworked the incumbent,” said one source familiar with Mississippi politics.
Nunnelee has been steadily moving up the various levels of the NRCC’s “Young Guns” campaign and infrastructure program since filing for the race in late July. During the fourth quarter, Nunnelee raised more than $200,000 for his campaign and reported just less than $300,000 in cash on hand as of Dec. 31. Nunnelee has received financial support for his campaign from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
Childers raised just less than $110,000 in the fourth quarter and reported about $550,000 in cash on hand at the end of 2009.
One GOP operative on Capitol Hill said Davis’ comments aren’t helpful because they could affect Nunnelee’s ability to raise money for his campaign from certain sources.
The operative went on to question why Davis would help a candidate who, despite her “tea party” connections, angered some conservatives in northern Mississippi last summer when, on a local talk radio show, she indicated her support of registering firearms with the government as a form of gun control.
Davis, who said he’s neutral in the primary, said he took the meeting with McGlowan as a courtesy when she was making her rounds on Capitol Hill. He said his call for caution over the NRCC getting involved in the primary so soon was not any commentary against Nunnelee.
“I think [Nunnelee] has all the marking of a fantastic candidate,” Davis said.
Davis said his comments at the meeting to discuss Young Guns candidates were not meant to impugn Nunnelee.
“It was saying, Hey I understand there is another potential serious candidate coming into this race and you just might want to hold off a little bit. … In this particular political environment, I’ve seen some primaries where there have been some surprises that were unexpected in some cases.”
Davis added that he believes his comments at that meeting are being blown out of proportion now by someone with an agenda.
Former Eupora Mayor Henry Ross is also running in the GOP primary.