Skip to comments.Tea Party Forces A Runoff in Mississippi: McDaniel and Cochran fail to win a majority
Posted on 06/04/2014 6:39:07 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Its the scenario that Republicans on both sides of Mississippis hard-fought primary battle had hoped to avoid: Neither candidate in Tuesdays primary captured 50 percent of the vote, sending the race into a June 24 runoff election.
It was a virtually unknown candidate, real-estate broker Thomas Carey of Hernando, Miss., who determined the outcome: With 99.5 percent of precincts reporting, he had captured 1.6 percent of the vote, keeping both incumbent senator Thad Cochran, with 48.8 percent, and his insurgent challenger, state senator Chris McDaniel, with 49.6 percent, under the 50 percent margin required to seize victory. Into the wee hours of the morning, Cochran advisers were predicting the senator will wind up with a lead when the last votes are counted. Regardless, it wont be enough to push him over the 50 percent mark.
A runoff election gives McDaniel a second chance to pick off the 76-year-old Cochran. He has the wind at his back: Turnout in runoff elections is historically low and tends to favor challengers, whose supporters tend to be more motivated.
Thats why, when McDaniel addressed his supporters in Hattiesburg, Miss., shortly after midnight Wednesday, he delivered what could easily have been mistaken for a victory speech.
Oh, my goodness, what a wonderful night, he said. The state senator from Ellisville, Miss., a city of approximately 5,000, has cast himself as the true conservative in the race and sought to characterize Cochran as a historical relic, an appropriator and a compromiser who has proved unwilling to take the fight to President Obama.
McDaniel declared the outcome of the race a historic moment in the states history. Cochran, by contrast, did not appear to address his supporters.
National Republican groups must now decide whether to redouble their efforts on Cochrans behalf and risk damaging McDaniel if he become the nominee in what has already been a highly personal race. The decision is made more agonizing by the fact that continuing to hammer McDaniel may have a high cost: Democrats recruited a potentially competitive nominee in the deep-red state, former representative Travis Childers, a pro-life, pro-gun legislator they believe can mount a credible campaign against McDaniel.
The outcome in Mississippi is unquestionably a victory for the GOPs tea-party wing. Many have argued that the overarching narrative of the 2014 election cycle is of the Republican establishment vanquishing the Tea Party. The partys insurgent forces, though, have put up a fight in only four major races: in Kentucky, where they tried and failed to unseat Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell; in Idaho, where they attempted unsuccessfully to oust representative Mike Simpson; in Nebraska, where they defeated the establishment-backed candidate, Shane Osborn; and in Mississippi, where McDaniel which a victory now hangs in the balance.
The 2014 cycle, says a top Republican strategist, is very comparable to previous cycles where the tea-party candidates win a relatively small number of races, which is what theyve always done in very tough primaries.
But McDaniel strikes fear in the Republican establishment and even among some of his supporters because he is relatively untested; comments unearthed from his time as a radio talk-show host evoked the specter of failed candidacies in winnable races, like those of Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. In one exchange, McDaniel discussed the possibility of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves. If they pass reparations, and my taxes are going up, I aint paying taxes, he said, and urged listeners to move to Mexico. You know, a dollar bill can buy a mansion in Mexico.
The McDaniel campaign suffered a major setback and exacerbated those reservations when a McDaniel supporter was arrested last month for breaking into the nursing home of Cochrans bedridden wife in an attempt to produce a hit video on the senator. Three others have since been indicted in connection with the incident.
In the closing weeks of the campaign, though, and despite the Cochran camps attempts to tie him to the scandal, McDaniel rebounded.
If he emerges victorious later this month, he will have accomplished a feat that hasnt been performed in Mississippi in over six decades: defeating a sitting senator running for reelection. That last happened in the Democratic primary of 1942, when James Eastland defeated Wall Doxey, who had served in the Senate for just two years.
Picking off Cochran, who has served in the Senate for 38 years, would certainly be a more impressive accomplishment. If McDaniel pulls it off, he can thank an influx of money from outside groups that marked Cochran as the most vulnerable establishment-GOP incumbent. McDaniel received over $5.2 million from groups like the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, compared with approximately $238,000 in individual contributions, a ratio of more than 20 to one. Cochran also received support from out-of-state groups: Organizations such as the National Association of Realtors and the American Hospital Association spent over $2.7 million to support him, while he raised nearly $700,000 from individual donors. Cochrans ratio of out-of-state to in-state money was far lower approximately four to one but more than a third of Cochrans individual contributions came from registered lobbyists in the Washington, D.C., area, including those employed by the liberal Podesta Group, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics in late February.
Cochran created his own problems, too, frustrating national Republicans last year by wringing his hands over whether to retire and surprising many in the Republican establishment when he announced in late December, two months after McDaniel announced his campaign, that he would seek reelection to a seventh term.
I dont think Cochran was as prepared for this challenge as other incumbents who have dealt with similar challenges. He didnt have a lot of money or a real campaign infrastructure, says a strategist for the McDaniel campaign. Mississippi heavyweights like former governor Haley Barbour and his sons, Austin and Henry; the states current governor, Phil Bryant; and former Senate majority leader Trent Lott all stepped in to boost Cochran.
Cochran supporters worked to turn out Democratic voters, placing an ad in a Jackson-based newspaper with a largely African-American readership. (That strategy is limited in the next three weeks because Mississippi election law forbids anybody who voted in Tuesdays Democratic primary from voting in the runoff election of the opposite party.) In the end, though, even his strongest backers were expressing reservations.
Senator Cochran has a small lead, but the McDaniel supporters are absolutely going to turn out to vote, Henry Barbour wrote in an e-mail to supporters on Friday. I worry that too many Cochran voters think he has it in the bag. That is not the case. A low-turnout election would spell defeat for Senator Cochran.
In the runoff later this month, the turnout will be low indeed, and both sides are preparing for the fight. We grew up on runoffs in Ms. This will be fun. Lets go, Cochran adviser Stuart Stevens said in a tweet. McDaniel assured his supporters, Whether its tonight, whether its tomorrow, we will stand victorious in this race.
Eliana Johnson is a political reporter for National Review Online.
Mississippi, can McDaniel beat Childers?
Thad Cochran: Just another example of the corrupting influence of incumbency and of the permanent political class. Lamar, Miss Lindsey, McLame, Little Mitchie, Boner-the list is endless.
Article V. is the only answer.
76 years old? Let it go. It’s time for fresh blood and new ideas.
“Cochran, by contrast, did not appear to address his supporters.”
No surprise. It was after 10:00 PM.
Relic? He's been in Washington 42 years (and what has he accomplished?)! He's an effing dinosaur who needs to go!
Sick and tired of these long-term incumbents who think they are entitled to lifetime jobs on our dime(s). Cochran can go be a greeter at a casino in Biloxi for all I care (he's probably better suited to that work anyway).
“...Mississippi election law forbids anybody who voted in Tuesdays Democratic primary from voting in the runoff election of the opposite party...”
Does Mississippi have what it takes to enforce this? If not...it could be trouble.
NR long ago joined the GOPe/Rove wing of the RINO party.
this is pathetic... no one in the GOP should try to boost Cochran or any GOP candidate in a PRIMARY election who has been in office that long... it is sickening... if you cannot support new blood, then at the very least, stay out of it and let the chips fall where they may...
Really? Does he have inside info? Is he knowledgeable about the votes that haven't been counted? Does he believe there are votes remaining to be cast?
Or is he just talking out his ass?
Cochran first ran for the House after serving as AA to a Democrat member.
“insurgent forces, though, have put up a fight in only four major races: in Kentucky, where they tried and failed to unseat Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell; in Idaho, where they attempted unsuccessfully to oust representative Mike Simpson; in Nebraska, where they defeated the establishment-backed candidate, Shane Osborn; and in Mississippi, where McDaniel which a victory now hangs in the balance.”
Patently false. We also have T.W. Shannon in Oklahoma who is likely to beat establishment James Lankford to take Coburn’s seat. We lost in Alabama with Chad Mathis and in North Carolina where Greg Brannon lost. But we have forced a runoff in Georgia with Barry Loudermilk! And also Mia Love is heading to the House from Utah.
So who will the Carey voters go to? One would assume McDaniel since they didn’t vote for Cochran buy it’s hard to tell. Carey didn’t have a website so we don’t know a whole lot about his positions. He runs some sort of prison ministry. He’s against Obamacare - so are both the other candidated. He’s for flat tax, doing away with the IRS and EPS, and a couple of other things that might tend his supporters towards McDaniel. He’s on record as saying he doesn’t plan to vote for either of his opponents assuming they won, so maybe his people will just stay home?
NR long ago joined the GOPe/Rove wing of the RINO party.
I know...do any true constitutional conservatives actually still subscribe to the National Review? This piece is a perfect example of the GOPe propaganda that they specialize in putting out now—it is filled with lies and misstatements.
Wow, Stuart Stevens is advising Cochran’s campaign? Good luck with that, Thad, lol.
Last nights McDaniel “win”..and he will win come 3 weeks from now has completely shaken the Mississippi Rove/Barbour/Bush entrenched, crony establishment machine...I’m loving every minute of it.
The TEA PARTY IS ALIVE AND THRIVING
Good assessment. And they “conveniently” omit any reference to Joni Ernst (who slaughtered the GOPe candidate Mark Jacobs last night in Iowa).
Yes. Childers is just a spook. He’ll do better than previous Mississippi Dems, but he’s no Joe Donnelly, and this isn’t Indiana. McDaniel can just coast to victory.