As a conservative, Tea Party Republican, last Tuesday's election result in the Mississippi senate runoff between Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel hurt a lot as Sen. Cochran pulled out a dramatic, come-from-behind victory.
It was in all ways the worst of what politics has to offer. And no doubt because Sen. Cochran did win the runoff, he is being tarred and feathered by a lot of Tea Party folk. Some of it is righteous and some of it is as bad as the criticisms of the Tea Party from the other side.
But where I think one of the blames does lie in the person of Thomas Carey.
Who the heck is Thomas Carey you ask?
Well, I thought the same thing. As it turns out, Mr. Carey is the third Republican candidate for the U.S. senate seat on the ballot on the initial primary day on June 3, 2014. Mr. Carey received a grand total of 4,789 votes or 1.5% of votes in the Republican primary. In Mississippi, a candidate needs to get 50% of total votes plus one to avoid a runoff. As you can see here, because of Mr. Carey's 4,789 votes and 1.5%, neither of the two top candidates, Sen. Cochran nor Sen. McDaniel passed the 50% plus one threshold.
And that, my friends, is what sent the primary into overtime. And that overtime was fierce, sloppy and pretty dirty. And it revealed a lot of things.
First, Sen. Cochran is a pork-laden Southern Republican. And damn proud of it as the runoff campaign proved.
Before I go on, Sen. Cochran is not a moderate Republican in the least. Sen. Cochran's overall American Conservative Union life rating as a senator is 80%. That is 40 plus years worth of votes. But he certainly is not a conservative that really talks a lot. Very low key kinda dude. As a comparison to others of his way, Sen. John "F--- You McCain (R-Az.) has a lifetime 81% rating. Sen. Goober Graham (R-S.C.) has an 88% lifetime rating. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) has a ACU lifetime rating of 89%.
What unifies these senators is what they get their press about.
As noted, Sen. Cochran is a pork-barrel, earmark kinda dude. Sens. Graham and McCain are very pro-amnesty for illegal aliens. Sen. Hatch has been around Washington over 40 years. As has Sen. Cochran. All represent what we call the Washington establishment.
As Sen. Cochran barnstormed across Mississippi, he knew that he had lost conservative Republicans that would consider themselves to the right of himself. He needed to find votes somewhere. And some of his advisers pushed him into seeking Black, Democrat votes in Hinds county, the largest in the state and where the state capitol, Jackson, is located.
But, Sen. Cochran did not campaign as some kind of Republican that would be interested in gaining Black voters for the long term. Not in the least. It was clearly targeted to get enough crossovers to make up for those votes he knew that he could not get from his fellow Republicans. Why, Sen. Cochran went so far as to point out all the money that he got from the feds for Mississippi. And especially how much of that went to Black Mississippians. And how he was always with them on all the civil rights stuff.
In other words, Sen. Cochran sounded like a born-again Democrat to gain these new voters. Voters that would vote now for Sen. Cochran to deny state Sen. McDaniel the GOP nomination and then come November turn around and proudly vote for the Democrat nominee, Travis Childers.
But worse it maybe that Team Cochran actually paid a Democrat operative, James "Scooby Doo" Warren, to work with a prominent Black pastor, Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Sr., to spread more money around for Black votes
It is very possible all of the above is totally true. And much of this is what irks Team McDaniel so much that they may very seriously challenge the election results. Now it just maybe way too much to challenge an election in which Sen. Cochran appears to have won by roughly 7,000 votes. And to challenge based on potentially singling out Black voters, I hate to say this, but it will not help the Tea Party at all.
But make no mistake, what Sen. Cochran did was not present those potential voters with a conservative, Republican message.
Ronald Reagan did in fact do that during the 1980 presidential campaign. Mr. Reagan went so far as to visit a South Bronx neighborhood to discuss his economic program. Sure, he was shouted down and reacted to the shouts. But he did make the effort in an area he had no chance of winning. He gave a conservative message, not one touting bringing in federal dollars and especially targeting that money to Black Americans.
That is what really bothers me about the whole way Sen. Cochran went for the Black vote.
It is not the way the Republican party should be doing so. For then we are nothing but Democrat Light. If even that.
But it's not just the feeling among the rank and file that many a Republican is finding themselves are not listening to them. For the leadership, especially in Washington, D. C., is not. There is a feeling that the congressional leadership especially is doing a Kabuki Theatre on issue after issue. So called "comprehensive immigration reform", tax policy, regulations, over-reach in general of the federal government. The leadership talks tough but behind the scenes are trying, still as this writing, for some kind of "comprehensive' immigration reform. This even as our Southern border is literally being invaded by children from Central America.
What the base and or the Tea Party want is leadership and elected officials to speak and act like an opposition that is ready to lead, not a bunch wanting to cut deals and take the road of least resistance. And also to mean what they say. Especially about cutting the size and scope of government, especially the federal government. That is what has the rank-and-file voter and Tea Party folks so frustrated.
It is not a good thing to see a stalwart Republican senator so desperate to cling to power that he would do anything to win an election. Even so far as trying to buy votes.
But this was not an election about Chris McDaniel. At least it should not be. But what I fear is happening is that Sen. McDaniel is doing what we accuse, rightfully, of RINOs* of doing when they lose.
Being a sore loser.
Remember Mike Castle in 2010 when he was running against Christine O'Donnell for the senate seat of now Vice-President Biden? Mr. Castle was the RINO, a real RINO, that was suppose to win the nomination in a cake walk. But a little publicity and push by some conservative talk radio hosts and Miss O'Donnell ended up winning the nomination. Mr. Castle refused to endorse her candidacy. He went away sulking. Ditto that for Sen. Richard Lugar who also lost his bid for renomination in 2012.
Did we conservatives not rightfully complain about their sour grapes? Did we not suggest that their personal piques more than the candidates that bested them may have cost the Republicans control of the senate in 2010 and 2012?
Yes, we did.
To see Sen. McDaniel go down the same road, I honestly believe, will make us no better.
I am not alone in thinking that we should let the Mississippi results stand and live to fight another day. After all, Sen. Cochran is not a RINO but a center-right conservative. He did a very bad thing is apparently winning the Republican nomination for the senate. But we should learn from that experience. That some candidates will stoop to any level to attain and or hold on to power.
David Freddoso of The Washington Examiner explains that because of the Tea Party and it's revitalizing the conservative movement, the Republican party as a whole is moving more to the right. Mr. Freddoso explains also how it took 16 years from then Sen. Barry Goldwater's defeat for the presidency to Ronald Reagan's triumph. That there were a lot of bumps along the way. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, real RINOism front and center. Conservatives were truly in the minority of a minority party. And since Ronald Reagan, we have had to deal with Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush and their serious lapses of conservatism. I think the old man would have to be the less conservative of the two.
But what has happened since George W. Bush left the White House in 2009?
Conservatives have fought to get the party back in the right direction. It was the Tea Party that put the testicles back into the Republicans. Many candidates, especially in the House and Senate were Tea Party supported and won election.
What the Tea Party has done is put fight back into the party. And we still do by keeping those in leadership from themselves and cutting bad deals in Washington.
We have to accept this loss in Mississippi. Its not because of anything but to drag it out does not do any side any good. Yes, I would vote for Sen. Cochran in the general election over the Democrat, Mr. Childers. Not because I think that he is an honorable man. He has proven that he is not. But because we can't let one state and the shenanigans done there ruin the chance of the Republican party gaining the senate majority. Yes, it is principled because Sen. Cochran will be a reliable no vote if the Dear Leader, President Obama, gets a chance at another supreme court nomination. On most issues he will be with us. And I think he will not support so-called "comprehensive" immigration reform. Not at all.
It hurt to lose this election in Mississippi. It really did. But it would be even more painful if the Democrats can somehow pull the rabbit-out-of-the-hat and win this seat. We don't always win the battle, but we can win the war.
*RINO-Republican In Name Only