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First Congressional District Candidates Square Off

By Sandra Knispel | Published 29 Oct 2012 08:22am | comments
Mississippi First District Republican Congressman Alan Nunnelee shakes hands with Democratic challenger Brad Morris after a debate at the University of Mississippi's Overb Center in Oxford.

Just eight days are left to election day. With most of the focus on the presidential race, MPB takes a look instead at the two main candidates in the First Congressional District in north Mississippi: Republican Congressman Alan Nunnelee and his Democratic challenger Brad Morris. MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports.

At a recent debate at the University of Mississippi’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics Nunnelee and Morris disagreed sharply over what programs should be cut in order to reduce the deficit. First the incumbent, Republican Nunnelee:

“We’ve already begun to cut government spending but there’s a lot left to do. Far too often we’re asking government the question, ‘How can an agency do something better?’ I think it’s time we start asking the questions, ‘Does government need to be doing this at all?’ And if we do that we make a lot of cuts.”

Democrat Morris has a different perspective.

“I don’t think gutting education at a time when we need it most to compete in this economy is the right approach. I don’t think cutting college aid that makes it harder for middle class and working families to send children to college, is the right approach.”

Many experts have called the current Congress the worst in history. Not only did its approval rating dip at some point as low as 10 percent –lower than even that of Paris Hilton or the IRS – but it also passed considerably fewer bills than any previous Congress. According to voting records it’s been the most polarized since the end of Reconstruction – leaving little room for compromise and causing the U.S. credit rating to be downgraded after the debt-ceiling debacle of last year. Challenger Morris told the audience….

“I’m ready to work with anybody from anywhere of any party to get things done for north Mississippi. I’m ready to go up there and work with anyone of good will to first of all get us on a fiscally responsible approach to government but that is focused on creating jobs and prioritizing education and support for protecting Medicare and Social Security.”

The incumbent said he would not attempt to defend the popularity of Congress but conceded…

“I understand your frustration. I’m frustrated. But I will challenge the foundation for your question that you measure success by how many laws Congress passes. We don’t need more laws, we need less laws. We need control at the local level, at the state level. Now, over the last 20 months I voted for legislation that would repeal Obamacare. I think that is progress. I voted for legislation that would allow us to recover affordable American energy. I think that’s progress.”

The candidates also differed sharply on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Congressman Nunnelee, who voted 32 times to repeal the law, called it bad for healthcare, job creation, seniors and freedom.

“A large number of healthcare professionals are retiring or leaving the medical profession because of the uncertainty around Obamacare. You know, the President himself said, ‘If you like your own health insurance keep it. And every American is going to see their insurance go down by $2,400 a year.’ Reality? Americans have seen our health insurance go up by an average of $2,400. I’ve had a long list of people tell me they’re afraid to hire – because they are afraid of what the rules are going to be.”

Morris said despite its shortcoming the law prevents the devastation of families because of high healthcare costs:

“The easy political thing for me to do would be [to] just come out against it and throw it all under the bus because that seems to be popular sentiment. But I can’t do that in good conscience because I look at this law and I see a law that despite all its faults and all its criticism, is the only real effort at healthcare reform in my lifetime.”

In the absence of reliable scientific polls for the First Congressional District race there’s only the money trail to follow. According to, Congressman Nunnelee has raised more than 1,300,000 dollars – that’s more than 7 ½ times the roughly 170,000 dollars raised by his Democratic challenger.

Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Oxford.

Also on the ballot for the First Congressional District are Libertarian Danny Bedwell, Jim Bourland for the Constitution Party, and Chris Potts -- running for the Reform Party.







Mississippi First District Republican Congressman Alan Nunnelee shakes hands with Democratic challenger Brad Morris after a debate at the University of Mississippi's Overb Center in Oxford.



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