Sen. Thad Cochran’s Democratic opponent signs no-amnesty pledge

Supporters of the two primary candidates for the U.S. Senate seat, incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran and Democrat Travis Childers listen to speakers at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, July 31, 2014. The fair is a traditional ... more >

By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2014

Travis Childers, Democrats’ Senate candidate in Mississippi, signed the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s “No Amnesty” pledge on Thursday, making him the first Democratic Senate candidate to sign this year.

Mr. Childers is seeking to unseat Sen. Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican who barely survived a GOP primary earlier this year and who has not signed the FAIR pledge, which was an issue in that earlier race.

Chris McDaniel, a state lawmaker who was trying to oust Mr. Cochran, signed the pledge as he surged into a lead, ending up with more votes on primary day. But in Mississippi, the winner must have a majority of the votes and Mr. Cochran triumphed in a run-off — though the McDaniels campaign accused him of dirty tricks.

That bad blood still lingers, and Kevin Broughton, national spokesman for the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund and a Mississippian, said that coupled with the amnesty pledge, it could come back to hurt Mr. Cochran.

“After watching the Barbour family and the Cochran campaign relentlessly smear conservatives in a desperate bid to keep power, Mississippians now have another choice to make. One candidate played the race card against Republicans. The other is now on record opposing amnesty for illegal aliens. Looks like an October donnybrook in my home state,” Mr. Broughton said.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., addresses supporters and volunteers at his runoff ... more >

Mr. Childers‘ campaign didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.

Jordan Russell, a spokesman for Mr. Cochran, discounted the importance of the pledge.

Senator Cochran has never voted for amnesty and never will. Travis Childers voted for Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House and voted with her 80 percent of the time. His ‘pledge’ isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” Mr. Russell said in an email.

Mr. Cochran voted against the 1986 amnesty signed by President Reagan, which was supposed to solve the illegal immigration problem by boosting enforcement. The amnesty was implemented, but the enforcement never followed, producing a new pool of illegal immigrants that have dogged policymakers for decades.

In 2006, the Senate tried to pass a new bill legalizing illegal immigrants, and Mr. Cochran helped advance it by heading off a filibuster — though he voted against the final legislation itself.

A year later, when another immigration bill was back on the Senate floor, Mr. Cochran joined in a bipartisan filibuster to block it. They were successful, and the issue was put on hold for years.

Last year, the so-called Gang of Eight senators — four Republicans and four Democrats — wrote another compromise, which passed the Senate on a 68-32 vote. Mr. Cochran voted against that version, too.

In signing the pledge Mr. Childers is breaking with most of his party’s officeholders in Washington. Every Democrat in the Senate voted for the Gang of Eight legislation.

“We’re always pleased when lawmakers recognize how immigration affects the national interest,” said Dan Stein, president of the FAIR Congressional Task Force. “Immigration should not be a partisan issue, and any solutions designed to benefit politicians rather than Americans by definition have no chance succeeding.”

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