How the GOP Beat the Tea Party in Mississippi

A poll conducted by WPA Research, between June 9th to June 10th, showed Mississippi state Senator Chris McDaniel up eight-points, outside the margin of error of 4.4 percent, over Senator Thad Cochran a little less than a week from Tuesday’s runoff election.

The poll of 500 likely GOP primary runoff voters had McDaniel leading Cochran 49 percent to 41 percent, with 10 percent undecided. However, that’s not how it turned out.

McDaniel lost the runoff to Cochran, which showed the incumbent winning 50.8 percent of the vote to McDaniel’s 49.2 percent. This after, Cochran’s openly courted non-GOP voters, including the state’s sizable Black Democratic population.

Cochran also got a last-minute influx of financial support from Republican establishment groups and fellow senators like Nevada’s Dean Heller. Other senators who tossed money in the hat for Cochran included Cochran’s Mississippi colleague Senator Roger Wicker and Senators Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, John Barrasso, John Thune, John Cornyn, Bob Corker, Susan Collins, Kelly Ayotte , Richard Shelby, and Mitch McConnell.

Also, gun-hater and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $250,000 to the pro-Thad Cochran super PAC “Mississippi Conservatives” in late May, Federal Election Commission filings show. In another case, it secured a $100,000 check from Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker, whose donations show an overwhelming Democrat tilt.

Cochran made the argument to voters he was a solid conservative who would continue routing federal money back to Mississippi, just as he’s done for decades. Promising to keep bringing federal dollars to Mississippi, the senator’s campaign worked to appeal to voters outside the typical GOP electorate, including Democratic black voters.

In a piece by CNN, a trio of self-identified Democrats admitted that they voted for Cochran in the primary.

By CNN’s count, about 61,000 more people voted Tuesday than in the primary two weeks ago. Cochran’s backers turned to Democrats, especially Blacks, who make up 37 percent of the state’s population.

In Mississippi, any resident can vote in a party’s primary. But some observers have noted that it could be illegal for Democrats to vote in the Republican primary — or more precisely, Mississippi state law prohibits voters from participating in a party’s primary if they don’t intend to support that party’s candidates in the general election.

Legal decisions have rendered that rule effectively unenforceable.

Furthermore a flyer, posted by journalist Charles Johnson suggests McDaniel and the Tea Party wanted to prevent blacks from voting in the Mississippi runoff election. Cochran’s critics allege the longtime senator’s campaign was behind the flyers.

As for McDaniel, he has refused to concede the race even after it was called for Cochran.

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About Tom Darby

French-born, American-raised, U.S. citizen, husband, father, friend, veteran, and writer.
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