Nunnelee is a 16-year state senator from Tupelo, and he relentlessly tied Childers to the Democratic speaker of the U.S. House, Nancy Pelosi of California.
Childers, of Booneville, is a fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrat who voted against Pelosi on issues such as the federal health care overhaul. But he found himself caught in a wave of anti-Washington sentiment from voters leery of federal government expansion.
North Mississippi's 1st Congressional District is not easily identified by party labels. It voted for Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.