Less than eight weeks from the November elections, don't expect surprises from the Mississippi congressional campaigns.

During the 1994 Republican Revolution, a state senator named Roger Wicker became the first Republican to hold the First Congressional District seat in modern times. Earlier this year, Wicker was appointed to the U.S. Senate necessitating a special election for his vacant House seat. Democrat Travis Childers retook this district for Democrats after defeating Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, who had narrowly squeaked through a bloody Republican Primary (for the November general) and had thus become the GOP standard-bearer for the special.

Childers has used his brief incumbency to strengthen his campaign, dwarfing Davis in fundraising. The only shot for a Republican upset is a massive turnout for the McCain-Palin ticket to sweep in Davis. It happened for Prentiss Walker in 1964, but that year the GOP carried the state with over 87 percent of the vote. Expect Childers to win reelection.

Republican Richard Cook is challenging incumbent Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson in the Second District. During a 1993 special election, Thompson, then a Hinds County supervisor, ran second in an eight person race, but went on to defeat Republican Hayes Dent in the run-off 55 to percent. Thompson won the remainder of Congressman Mike Espy's unexpired term. President Bill Clinton had selected Espy as the country's first black Secretary of Agriculture. In the subsequent seven reelection campaigns, Thompson's closest race came in 1994 against Republican Bill Jordan who held Thompson to just under 54 percent. Thompson now serves as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and will easily win reelection.

The Third Congressional District is an open seat, but any honest observer will have to predict a victory for Republican Gregg Harper. His opponent, Democrat Joel Gill is a nice and idealistic fellow. A cattleman from Pickens, many of his tax and social policies could be those of a conservative Republican. Gill even supports partial-privatization of social security. But his support of Obama-Clinton universal healthcare, and his position to decrease funding for defense by cutting resources for domestic bases stands in contrast to all of the delegation's efforts - Republican and Democrat - to maintain Mississippi military infrastructure.

Gill's greatest disadvantage is running in a safe Republican district (in which he doesn't live) which will be demographically isolated from any Obama voter surge and may react with an anti-Democrat "bubba surge". Harper's earned and paid name ID from an aggressive primary and run-off have voters in the Third District already believing he is their congressman. Meanwhile, Harper continues to fundraise (Harper's at cash-on-hand: $92,846 - Gill's: $2313) and will turn out the vote come Election Day. This is a safe Republican Gregg Harper district.

Republican John McKay is challenging incumbent Democratic Congressman Gene Taylor in the Fourth Congressional District. Taylor is the dean of the Mississippi House Delegation first elected in a 1989 special election following the airplane accident that killed then Republican Congressman Larkin Smith. Taylor led the three-man special election featuring himself, then Attorney General Mike Moore, and then chief-of-staff to Senator Trent Lott, Tommy Anderson. This was Lott's old seat but when the final votes were in from the run-off, Taylor beat Anderson by nearly a two to one margin. This year marks Taylor's tenth reelection campaign since and only Dennis Dollar in 1996 held Taylor below 60 percent; Taylor won easily at 58 percent. Five elections have seen Taylor at greater than 75 percent of the vote.

Taylor, a maverick Democrat has only recently come under the sway of his national party. To keep him from occasionally plotting his own course, the Democrats made Taylor chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces. But a former Coast Guard skipper, Taylor knows how to swim in treacherous waters and Democrats can't always depend on him. But if they could, they might not hold the district. President George W. Bush carried the district with 68 percent in 2004. Taylor called for President Clinton's resignation, and in 2000 announced if the House of Representatives had to determine who would be President, his vote would go to George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, McCay's strategic highpoint appears to be his name, as explained in a McKay web video: "Were you a P.O.W.? No, he's running for President. I'm John McCAY and I'm running for congress, and I too will support our veterans rights and benefits. Aren't you the county supervisor? No ma'am. That John McCay serves Jackson County, but I do want to protect the Pascagoula River. Did you run for justice court judge? No sir, that John McKay is my daddy, but I too am a defender of our Constitution." While the maverick loving Coast voters will like McCain, for the same reasons they will re-elect Taylor, and no confusion on the name will change that.

Brian Perry of Jackson, a former congressional aide, is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.