A Historical Perspective On Mississippi’s Congressional Delegation
If Alan Nunnelee and Steven Palazzo were to win election to the House in their respective races, it would certainly be historical in having two incumbents go down to the defeat. But having Republicans occupy 75 percent of the state’s Congressional delegation would also be uncharted water for a party who sent their first member to D.C. (since Reconstruction) in 1964 when Prentiss Walker rode Barry Goldwater’s coattails to a seat in the old Fourth district.
Walker then decided to challenge James Eastland two years later for his Senate seat. That didn’t turn out too well. As a result, Republicans would be held out of the delegation until 1973 when two men named Thad Cochran and Trent Lott won election in the old Fourth and Fifth districts.
From 1973-1981, Republicans would own two (40%) of the seats. That number fell down to one when John Hinson famously resigned a few months into his second term in July 1981. In 1983, the GOP got back up to two seats when Webb Franklin won election from the Second. He would serve through 1986 until that district was redrawn to elect an African-American resembling the district we know today. When Gene Taylor won a special election in the old Fifth in 1989, the GOP was back down to zero seats in the delegation.
In 1995, the GOP would pick up two seats. First, Roger Wicker replaced the retiring Jamie Whitten in the First. Then Mike Parker would switch parties later that year. And when Sonny Montgomery retired in 1996, Chip Pickering would win election in the Third. From 1997 through 1999, the GOP would occupy three of the five seats- a majority- for the first time since Reconstruction and the only period to this day. When Parker left office to run for governor, Ronnie Shows would replace him.
After Mississippi lost a Congressional seat, Pickering beat out Shows and the GOP was at 50 percent of the delegation. It would be this way until 2008 when Wicker resigned to be appointed to the Senate and Travis Childers would win a special election in the First giving the Dems three out of four seats (that they occupy today).
If Nunnelee and Palazzo do indeed win, the GOP would occupy a majority of the seats for the first time in a little over a decade and 75 percent of the delegation for the first time since Reconstruction.