JACKSON -- Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Travis Childers of Booneville said he tried to call incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran on Wednesday after he won the contentious Republican primary runoff, but could not get through.
Childers said he believes he eventually will get an opportunity to congratulate Cochran. "I want him to know I look forward to a civil debate about the issues and not personalities," he said.
"I believe we will have that debate."
Childers, a former U.S. House member, won the Democratic nomination on June 3 against little-known opposition. Cochran faced a tough and contentious primary that Childers said dealt more with personalities than issues against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
In the runoff, Cochran defeated McDaniel by about 6,700 votes, or less than 2 percentage points, though McDaniel has said he might contest the results.
On Wednesday, Childers was focused on Cochran. Some had suggested Childers would not make as much of an effort if Cochran, a sixth-term incumbent with traditionally broad general election support, survived a tough party primary challenge.
But Childers did not sound like a candidate willing to concede anything.
"I understand when a person has been in office many, many years the conventional wisdom is they are just impossible to beat..." Childers said. "But I have been in public service for long time ...and any of those seats I held, chancery clerk, the congressional seat or the Senate seat I am seeking, do not belong to one person. They belong to the people. I always believed that when I served."
Childers said he believes a majority of Mississippians want to change the tone in Washington, D.C.
"If we are going to change Washington, we will need to change who we send to Washington," he said Tuesday night after Cochran had been declared the winner of the Republican runoff.
Childers said he hopes Cochran will agree to debates. He suggested four -- one in each of the congressional districts.
"That is not overreaching and not too hard on anybody," he said.
Cochran refused to debate McDaniel in the primary.