Tag Archives: Chris McDaniel

Kansas race now gets seriously interesting

Who would have thought that a campaign for a U.S. Senate race in little ol’ Kansas would have such profound national implications?

It appears that something like that is shaping up.


The Kansas Supreme Court has removed the name of a Democrat from the ballot after he dropped out of the race unexpectedly more than a week ago. Chad Taylor pulled out of the race because (a) he didn’t have a prayer of beating incumbent Republican Pat Roberts and (b) the independent candidate, Greg Orman, is surging and is now leading Roberts in most polls.

What does this mean?

It might mean that Republicans could fall short of winning control of the Senate, which is the dream of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who wants to become majority leader in January.

Roberts took a serious beating in the GOP primary when questions arose about his residency and whether he actually lived in Kansas any longer. He said he does and he beat back the challenge.

Orman, though, has cut seriously into Roberts’s standing among voters. He’s casting the incumbent as out of touch and all the usual anti-incumbent stuff one hears. The difference, however, is that it’s sticking to Roberts.

Taylor was running third in the polls. The word now is that he dropped out merely to try denying Roberts’s re-election to the Senate. He’s what one would call a “team player,” meaning he took one for the team if it helps the non-Republican candidate win the contest. Republicans wanted to keep his name on the ballot, but the state’s high court dismissed the GOP appeal.

Most polling around the country shows the race for Senate control to be tight. A RealClearPolitics average of polls suggests Republicans would fall one seat short if the election were held today. If Roberts loses in reliably Republican Kansas, then the odds of a GOP takeover would appear doomed.

Yes, there’s a certain twinge of chicanery involved here. It’s legal, just as it was legal for African-American Democrats to vote for Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi to deny tea party GOP challenger Chris McDaniel an upset.

As the saying goes — and I’m not even sure what it means: Politics ain’t bean bag.

Butt out, Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz needs to shut his pie hole.

The junior Republican senator from Texas is calling for an investigation into possible voter fraud in Mississippi. His colleague, veteran GOP Sen. Thad Cochran won the runoff there despite signals he’d lose to tea party challenger Chris McDaniel.

Cruz, the loudmouth freshman senator from way out here, thinks some fraud took place. He wanted McDaniel to win the race and he just can’t believe Cochran pulled off a victory.


Here’s what happened, Ted.

African-American Democrats in Mississippi became alarmed that McDaniel actually might win. So they crossed over — which is as legal in Mississippi as it is in Texas — to vote for Cochran. These crossover voters aren’t exactly enamored of Cochran, but they saw him as far more palatable than the fiery McDaniel, who’s been known to utter racially tinged comments on his radio show.

Those voters put Cochran over the top and positioned him to win a seventh term as senator from the Magnolia State.

Was there actual fraud? I doubt it seriously. There instead was a concerted effort by the Cochran campaign to recruit support where no one expected to find it.

It was a brilliant strategy.

Now, Sen. Cruz, tend to business back home.

Thad Cochran: civil rights champion

The renomination in Mississippi of Republican Thad Cochran to another term in the U.S. Senate has brought up an interesting talking point.

Will the conservative Republican senator now become a civil rights champion to pay back the favor African-American voters delivered in helping him beat back a near-certain defeat in a GOP runoff?

Think about this for a moment.

Cochran was considered dead meat when he finished second in the GOP primary in the Magnolia State. The favorite to beat him was tea party golden boy Chris McDaniel. Then a strange thing happened.

Thousands of African-American Democrats who hadn’t voted in their own primary turned out to cast their votes for Cochran in the runoff. It turned out to be the difference for the six-term senator who reportedly will serve his final term in the Senate if he’s re-elected this fall. As for McDaniel, he’s not going away quietly. He’s continuing to raise a ruckus over the way he lost a contest he was thought to be a shoo-in to win.

So, does the senator now become a champion of, say, renewing the Voting Rights Act when it comes up? Might he resist efforts to make voting more difficult for voters — mainly minorities — who have difficulty providing photo identification when they register to vote? Will this lawmaker realize that with no more campaigns to run, no more challenges from his right to fend off and with no more money to raise he will be free to pay back those to whom he likely owes his latest political victory?

I rather like the idea of a conservative Dixie state Republican becoming a friend of African-Americans.

Is it political expediency? No. It’s political gratitude.

This death is chilling

Mark Mayfield’s death in Mississippi has caused more than your run-of-the-mill grief among his family and closest friends.

It makes others of us far from the Magnolia State sad in ways we likely cannot explain.


Mayfield was a high-powered lawyer and political operative in Mississippi who was implicated in one of the more bizarre political scandals of recent times. He was one of several men accused of conspiring to break into a nursing home to take pictures of the stricken, bed-ridden wife of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the middle of Cochran’s primary campaign against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

Why take pictures of Mrs. Cochran? She suffers from dementia and the McDaniel allies allegedly were making a campaign video to smear Sen. Cochran because he’s been seen in the company of another woman while traveling here and there.

Mayfield, a local tea party big-wig, was found dead in his home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

This is a tragic outcome to a bizarre political story.

Cochran won the Mississippi Republican Party runoff this past Tuesday against McDaniel, despite all the polls that showed McDaniel to be leading by a significant margin. The senator now likely is going to be re-elected to his seventh term.

I don’t know much about Mayfield, other than his close tea party ties and his many political connections in Mississippi. Police have ruled his death a suicide, so it’s reasonable to presume he was feeling shame over whatever role he played in trying to defeat Sen. Cochran.

How does one honor such a man? He doesn’t deserve high praise because he took his life over guilt.

This whole sordid episode seems to portend just how personal some campaigns are liable to get, not to mention the response to some of the tactics that occur.

Yahoo.com report: “An aide to McDaniel accused mainstream Republicans of politicizing the nursing home scandal to build sympathy for Cochran, at Mayfield’s expense.

“’The politicization of the incident was beyond the pale,’ McDaniel aide Keith Plunkett tells Politico.”

I’d argue, though, that what was really beyond the pale was the break-in at the nursing home.

Turnabout not always fair play, says GOP

Thad Cochran’s stunning reversal of fortune in Mississippi makes me laugh.

OK, so I’m just snickering under my breath. But it does create some interesting water-cooler talk among Republican Party political strategists.

Cochran, R-Miss., was supposed to lose the Mississippi GOP runoff to tea party darling Chris McDaniel on Tuesday. Instead, he won. How? Apparently by enlisting the support of African-American Democrats to vote in the Republican primary.


That strategy didn’t go down well with hard-core Republicans. McDaniel himself said that Cochran owed his victory to “liberal Democrats” who were afraid to face a true conservative — such as McDaniel.

It well might be that the Democrats who crossed over to back Cochran will rue the day they did so, as the incumbent six-term senator will be a heavy favorite to win a seventh term this November.

There’s a certain richness in the irony of the GOP’s complaints about Cochran’s winning formula.

Some Republican leaders — and I’ll include the GOP’s blowhard in chief, Rush Limbaugh, in this category — at one time encouraged Republicans to cross over to vote for Democrats in an effort to serve as spoiler in hotly contested Democratic primaries. That clearly was the case in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign between U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. The 2008 Texas primary, for example, became notable because of the huge interest in the Democratic ballot, particularly in areas such as the Panhandle, where Democrats are nearly extinct.

Limbaugh and others were exhorting Republicans to vote for Clinton, hoping the party would nominate her in the belief she’d be easier to beat in the fall than Obama.

It didn’t work out that way, of course.

Now, though, they’re yammering about a reversal of that strategy — because, apparently, it worked.

Cry me a river.

Sure-fire winner gets derailed

Hey. What the heck happened in Dixie last night?

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi was supposed to get his head handed to him by that tea party upstart Chris McDaniel in the Republican runoff. It didn’t happen. Cochran was renominated for his billionth term in the Senate.


It turns out the conservative senator who the tea party said wasn’t conservative enough turned to some unlikely allies in pulling out this comeback win: African-American voters, for crying out loud.

He also got some help by a turnout that exceeded the primary turnout in raw numbers, a feat as rare as, say, African-Americans voting for a Southern Republican these days.

McDaniel scared the bejabbers out of a lot of Mississippians, apparently. Cochran’s team targeted some racially charged comments McDaniel made as a radio talk-show host. McDaniel fired back with criticism of Cochran’s penchant for piling on pork-barrel money for projects he funneled back to his home state.

Then there was this, as reported by The Hill: “McDaniel stumbled over a scandal concerning the arrest of four men, some clear supporters of his bid, for allegedly sneaking into a nursing home to take photos of Cochran’s wife for use in an apparent political attack on the senator.”

It was a nasty, bizarre and totally weird runoff campaign.

Out here in Texas, though, we don’t have a particular hound in that fight.

I’ve got mixed feelings about it all, to be blunt. I am not a huge Thad Cochran fan, but the alternative — McDaniel — was much worse, in my humble view. I guess I’m glad Cochran won. The man has shown the ability to work with Democrats in the Senate, a skill McDaniel would have needed to learn from scratch.

All in all, a bizarre ending to a bizarre campaign.

Good old days of 'pork' are gone

Remember when members of Congress used to actually boast about all the money they channeled to their states or their congressional districts?

Shoot, you had to be able to talk committee chairmen into approving money for your pet project. There always was something to give back in return, of course. A favor for the chairman’s district, or some help raising money for the other guy’s re-election campaign often was the kind of quid pro quo offered and delivered.

Those days are gone. That’s generally a good thing. I’m not fond of what’s been called “pork-barrel spending.”

A long-time U.S. senator, Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi, is in trouble now partly because he used to funnel a lot of dough back to the Magnolia State.


It used to be a good thing. No more, folks.

Nope. The guy who’s favored to beat him Tuesday in the GOP runoff in Mississippi is Chris McDaniel, a tea party golden boy who stands poised to knock off another one-time “titan of the Senate.”

It’s not that Cochran is my favorite senator. Far from it. He tilts too far to the right for my taste. McDaniel, though, tilts even farther to the right, which makes the probable outcome in Mississippi a downer as far as I’m concerned. I’m figuring McDaniel would be one of those who’ll proclaim “my way or the highway” on anything that comes from the other side of the aisle.

A question looms in this race for Mississippi Republicans: Is it really and truly a bad thing to spend public money when it pays for public projects that are developed in your very own state? According to the New York Times, the answer for many Mississippians is “yes.”

It didn’t used to be this way.

Oh, the times they certainly are a-changin’.

Next up in tea party sights: Sen. Graham

Lindsey Graham might be the next sitting Republican U.S. senator headed to a runoff courtesy of a tea party challenge from his right.

Last week we saw Mississippi U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran forced into a runoff with challenger Chris McDaniel. The smart money, such as it is, says Cochran’s in trouble in the June 24 runoff. McDaniel is well-positioned to knock off the six-term Republican incumbent, who the tea party says isn’t conservative enough for Mississippians.

Instead, the Mississippi Republicans may nominate someone backed by fanatics who broke into a nursing home where Cochran’s wife has lived for more than a decade and who sought to produce an anti-Cochran campaign video that included images of his bed-ridden wife. Disgusting.

And what about Graham, another conservative who’s been deemed too squishy because he has the audacity to work across the aisle at times? Why, that turncoat even has supported some of President Obama’s judicial nominees, which angers the tea party faction in South Carolina to no end.

He’s got a boatload of challengers. The South Carolina GOP primary is Tuesday. The question there is whether Graham can be re-nominated without having to go to a runoff. If he doesn’t get the requisite 50-percent majority, can he prevail in a runoff in which the turnout usually is a whole lot lower than it is in the primary?

This is big news just about everywhere, it seems, but Texas. The tea party wing of the GOP is running strong here, so it’s no big deal to see “establishment” incumbents getting thumped.

Elsewhere? That’s another matter.

Stay tuned for the latest drama to play out Tuesday in South Carolina.

Tea party hangs on in Dixie

It looks as though the national tea party still has a dog in the hunt, as the saying goes.

At least for now.

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel is holding to a slim lead in the Republican primary race with incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. If the challenger fails to get to 50 percent when all the votes are counted — he stands at 49.6 percent with 97 percent of the ballots counted — the two men are headed for a June 23 runoff.

It was thought that perhaps the tea party perhaps could lose this one, too, as it had in other states — that are not Texas. McDaniel has been campaigning against Cochran’s influence in the Senate and the seniority he’s built and, oh yes, all that public money that he directs toward his home state. McDaniel’s one of those “outsiders” who will shake things up.

From where I sit a few hundred miles west of Mississippi, it appears McDaniel would like to become one of those folks who wants it done his way or no way at all. Well, the results aren’t in. We’ll have to wait a few more days, perhaps weeks, to know whether the Mississippi Republican Party has snapped out of it.


What is most astounding is that McDaniel still holds a lead after the hideous story broke about his campaign goons breaking into a nursing home to photograph Cochran’s bed-ridden wife to make an anti-Cochran campaign video highlighting the senator’s alleged “infidelity.”

It’s one of the more bizarre political blow-ups I’ve seen in some time.

Decency seems to have hit the road in Dixie.

I am anxious to see how this nastiness plays out.

'Non-story' still gets attention

Now we have Sarah “Barracuda” Palin, the former half-term Alaska governor, weighing in on one of the most bizarre political escapades in recent history.

It’s a “non-story,” she declared this week while throwing her support behind a tea party challenger to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.


What, then, is the “non-story”? It deals with efforts to video-record Cochran’s bed-ridden wife in the nursing home where she lives to use in an attack video against the veteran Republican lawmaker.

My question is this: What in name of all that is holy is the purpose of such a disgraceful deed?

The challenger, Chris McDaniel, disavows any involvement. The cops have arrested four supporters, alleging criminal conspiracy and criminal trespass for breaking into the nursing home where Mrs. Cochran resides.

Cochran, of course, is outraged. He should be.

I keep wondering about the end game here. What are the pro-McDaniel goofballs seeking to illustrate by showing Mrs. Cochran in the nursing home; she’s been under 24-hour care for more than a decade.

It’s one thing for the tea party to target someone such as Sen. Cochran, who’s been a reliably — and largely reasonable — conservative for his entire Senate career. The tea party wing already has taken down other GOP stalwarts, such as Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar and Utah Sen. Bob Bennett. The tea partiers went after Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, but got thumped. Now they want Thad Cochran’s scalp?

As for the one-time GOP vice-presidential nominee, Palin is showing yet again her habit of blaming the media for keeping a so-called “non-story” alive.

It most certainly is a story when political operatives working on behalf of a candidate for an important public office stoop to gutter-level tactics.