The McDaniel campaign may yet have their day in court to plead foul play in Mississippi’s Republican Primary, but that seems an unlikely route for McDaniel to have the chance to represent the people of Mississippi in the United States Senate. No court will rule in his favor before November. The Federal Elections Commission may still investigate alleged reporting discrepancies from Cochran’s PACs and preacher friends, but such an investigation will take even longer.
McDaniel can not qualify at this late date as an Independent candidate, but in the spirit of independence, McDaniel supporters should write-in their candidate this November. If everyone who voted for McDaniel in the June 24th run-off, wrote him on the ballot to be the next Senator from Mississippi, it would likely mean another run-off as none of the candidates would receive the necessary 50 percent to win the election out-right.
There is no provision for a “write-in” candidate in our state constitution, but if the Reform Party candidate, Shawn O’Hare, should withdraw, McDaniel would be eligible as a “write-in.” If those “write-in” votes get counted, the final tallies for Cochran and the Democratic candidate will be all the more curious. We would find out once and for all just how many voters actually switched parties to help Cochran defeat McDaniel in the runoff; that is, if those voters decided to break Mississippi Law and vote for their own party in the fall. McDaniel might be in yet another State-wide runoff.
If he runs against the Democrat, the Establishment Republicans would hold their blue noses, vote for McDaniel and hope to reign him and the Tea Party in once the Senate has been secured by the Republicans. The write-in candidacy would make history, but if it fails…
There is still another way for McDaniel to be Mississippi’s next Senator.
Now this gets a bit scary. If Cochran wins, but the Republicans don’t gain control of the Senate this fall, Cochran’s value is greatly diminished. Sure he works well with the Democratic majority when it comes to matters of importance to Mississippi, such as farm subsidies and whatnot. But without a Chairmanship, it’s doubtful Cochran stays in a Reid-run Senate for more than two years. Then, if all hell breaks lose in 2016 and Hillary and Bubba move back into the White House, Cochran definitely retires.
Phil Bryant will appoint someone to Thad’s vacated Senate seat. Now the money is on Greg Harper to be appointed, but that might create too much ill will with the Tea Party wing of Mississippi’s GOP who are not as enamored with Harper as national media outlets would suggest. Many are bitter at his betrayal of the McDaniel campaign and consider him little more than an Establishment flunky.
Bryant has choices. If Haley wants the Senate seat, Bryant will select him. Haley would finally have the seat he ran for in 1982 when he made so much more of the age of Mississippi’s most beloved Senator, and even tried to film a distraught John Stennis after he had just put Ms. Coy, his wife of 50 plus years, into a nursing home. Haley is a masterful operator. He would do better with a GOP Majority. It is also doubtful he would give up his lucrative lobbying with all the money being thrown around these days.
Bryant may consider one of our University Presidents. Former Cochran staffer, Mark Keenum has proven wildly successful at Mississippi State University. He, and his wife, are highly respected among national GOP circles. Approachable and humble, State fans would be sick to lose this tireless worker and favorite son, even to the U.S. Senate. A lesser celebrated former staffer, Bill Laforge has been at Delta State for over a year now. This “dark horse” seems Senatorial enough and with current enrollment woes and the monetary mess he inherited at DSU, he might welcome a return to Northern Virginia.
Our Governor, however, has never cottoned much to academics and is likely to pull a fast one. He has offered more than lip service to right-wingers with his diligent work on the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other socially conservative policies with Tea Party appeal. Look for Bryant to consider Chris McDaniel for Cochran’s vacated Senate seat. Seriously.
If the Democrats control the U.S. Senate and Hillary’s in the White House, Mississippi and the national GOP will not need a Legislator as much as they will want a Bomb Lobber, a la Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Bryant can appoint someone who by his own admission will refuse to compromise, will fight to halt the federally-funded gravy train, even shut the government down if he can, a Tea Party Patriot who just might save our Republic. So, yes, Mississippi, Mr. McDaniel could still go to Washington.
» David Dallas is a political writer. He worked for former U.S. Sen. John Stennis and authored Barking Dawgs and A Gentleman from Mississippi.