(CNN) - Democrat Travis Childers has defeated Republican Greg Davis in the special election for an open congressional seat in northern Mississippi, CNN projected Tuesday night, based on early returns.
Republicans have held the seat since 1994.
UPDATE: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole said in a statement he is "disappointed" with the result.
"Republicans must undertake bold efforts to define a forward looking agenda that offers the kind of positive change voters are looking for," Cole also said. "This is something we can do in cooperation with our Presidential nominee, but time is short."
(Full Cole statement after the jump)
“We are disappointed in tonight’s election results. Though the NRCC, RNC and Mississippi Republicans made a major effort to retain this seat, we came up short.
“Tonight’s election highlights two significant challenges Republicans must overcome this November. First, Republicans must be prepared to campaign against Democrat challengers who are running as conservatives, even as they try to join a liberal Democrat majority. Though the Democrats’ task will be more difficult in a November election, the fact is they have pulled off two special election victories with this strategy, and it should be a concern to all Republicans.
“Second, the political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general. Therefore, Republicans must undertake bold efforts to define a forward looking agenda that offers the kind of positive change voters are looking for. This is something we can do in cooperation with our Presidential nominee, but time is short.
“I encourage all Republican candidates, whether incumbents or challengers, to take stock of their campaigns and position themselves for challenging campaigns this fall by building the financial resources and grassroots networks that offer them the opportunity and ability to communicate, energize and turn out voters this election.”