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What’s next in Mississippi...

What’s next in Mississippi politics?

By: Magnolia Tribune - August 1, 2014

Barring some earth shattering revelations, proof of which no one has yet to reveal, McDaniel has lost (in more ways than one) and it is all but certain U.S. Senator Thad Cochran will win reelection over a weak and underfunded Travis Childers. Cochran’s speech at Neshoba proved this fact.

What is worth discussing as we head into November, and perhaps more so as we draw nearer to 2015, is how this Republican primary will affect campaigns to come on both sides of the aisle.

What it means for Democrats

For yellow dog Democrats to gain traction in Mississippi, they know it will require them to find and exploit that which has the potential to divide conservatives, or to put it more simply, they have to cover their yellow steak with a blue coat to disguise their true colors while sounding just conservative enough to gain disgruntled Republican voters.

A recent example of this was seen in Democrats jumping on the McDaniel bus of bashing Haley Barbour, as if to root out corruption and take back Mississippi from his cronies. State chairman Rickey Cole is making it his mission in life, so he says, to expose Boss Hog Haley, a reference Hazard loving Tea Partiers will enjoy.

Yet while Democrats were exploiting the current Barbour hatred they were also demonizing the Tea Party, those who hold the former Governor in the most contempt and who Democrats need to crossover, in fundraising emails to their liberal supporters.

Let not the left hand know what the right hand is doing, right Rickey? Not quite in Biblical context but that’s the Democrats’ play.

If you heard Travis Childers’ speech at Neshoba then you know Democrats are back to riding the same fence they once owned before they purged the blue dogs from their ranks. Yet now they are hoping disgruntled Republicans (McDaniel voters) climb on up with them to share the splinters in their rear ends while hoping we don’t see through their whitewashed facade and expose them again.

What it means for the Tea Party

The Tea Party in Mississippi feels like a vengeful jilted bride. Just when it thought voters had finally warmed to their advances, voters’ eyes were opened, leaving them at the alter, exposed and visibly shaken. All they have left now is to make the lives of those who embarrassed them a living Hell for the perceivable future.

And what better way to do that than by flirting with the other side while telling everyone who will listen how bad they were treated.

Take the recent email from the South MS Tea Party encouraging its supporters to protest at the Neshoba County Fair with signs that say “Fire Phil,” among other slogans.

“Fire Phil” is a social media hashtag Mississippi Democrats have been using for quite a while now, taking aim at Mississippi Governor Bryant over his refusal to expand Medicaid due to Obamacare while criticizing other conservative policy decisions including education reform, fiscal responsibility, and religious freedom.

For the Tea Party to be joining hands with Democrats in this very public display, co-opting liberal talking points, it should give conservatives pause and encourage them to question just how far off the reservation have some of these “leaders” gone.

Perhaps the exposure of the email by YP and others resulted in their toned down antics at Neshoba, what with their ‘betrayed’ and ‘RINO’ signs with their mouths taped. It was a welcome sight for many who have tired of their ways.

Those who identify as sympathetic to the Tea party are still relevant. Their ideas and small government values are noteworthy.

However, for the Tea Party “leaders” to remain relevant in Mississippi the group will need a Joan-Rivers-size facelift. It’s incessant exposure of the most extreme fringe and constant mean spirited rhetoric of fight and intra-party warfare has to be rebranded into a strategy that 1). doesn’t drive opposition voters to the polls (yes, that’s what really happened in the US Senate primary), and 2). can win an election based on practical, achievable governance instead of mere ideological hype conveyed in such a way that even fellow conservatives shy away.

The Tea Party must value application of its principles through working within the system they desire to change, not just in slick speeches and trumped up claims that appeal to the fear and discontent of its supporters while appearing talk radio or paid tweets…

That is unless it is only about wanting their names in the news or padding their coffers, rather than actually implementing their ideas on public policy.

What it means for November

Democrat U.S. Senate nominee Travis Childers is low on funds with little hope of gaining what’s needed to make it a real race (although that was initially said of McDaniel as well). Unless Democrats can provide a significant shot in the arm to Childers’ campaign his will be a race waged mostly through press releases, social media, and targeted candidate and ad placement around the state, seeking to siphon off as much vote as possible and rally what troops there are to have a decent showing.

Cochran, barring a huge misstep or a series of small, highly promoted ones which would make his campaign change course, will likely continue to promote his ability to do more for Mississippi as he did in his Neshoba speech, touting the very real notion that his seniority and experience make him the best choice for Mississippi.

What it means for 2015

Expect a fair number of upstart Tea Party newcomers to attempt a run for county and legislative seats which, depending on the area, could have an impact on the balance of power in the Legislature. However, the smart ones will likely distance themselves from Tea Party “leaders” and run as really conservative Republicans minus other labels.

While Republicans have a firm hold on the state Senate, they have a rather loose grasp on the House.

Depending on the manner in which any of these Tea Party candidates campaign it may well benefit Democrats in already shaky seats, perhaps even in some areas previously thought as safe.

As for statewide offices, the Tea Party ire at Gov. Bryant, Lt. Gov. Reeves, Secretary of State Hosemann and Auditor Pickering will draw considerable discussion of who in their ranks should challenge these officials that dared endorse and campaign for Cochran over McDaniel. To hear them talk, the Tea Party is the only reason they are in office in the first place.

Truth is, however, none of them are likely to give any statewide official a real challenge now given the way this post-Senate primary has been handled, and they certainly won’t attract any out of state money. They continue to excommunicate themselves from GOP voters and independents, solidifying their future electoral fate.

Had the past month been handled as Reagan in 1976, 2015 would be quite interesting. But as it stands today, all statewide officials are favored to win reelection if they choose to run and the Tea Party “leaders” continue to polarize themselves, their group, and their message by their unwillingness to accept reality.


As for who made the most headway at Neshoba, that footnote should go to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn. Both hit the elephant in the room squarely in the mouth, addressing the power play at hand. Reeves showed he was ready for what may come and welcomed the fight while Gunn sounded like a true party leader calling for unity and a focus on November.

Gov. Bryant could have made a real statement of his party leadership but instead chose to let Reeves and Gunn take on that role which, with the strong talk on border security and common core, may show a sign of his eye being on Tea Party discontent.

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Magnolia Tribune

This article was produced by Magnolia Tribune staff.