By David Dallas
I worked for the Republican Steering Committee in Washington D.C. during the final throes of the George Herbert Walker Bush presidency after he had broken his no-new-taxes promise. No matter how you read his lips, George the First had betrayed the Reagan Revolution. He had compromised with Democrats and, now-extinct, liberal Republicans to save the country from the brink of bankruptcy. As a result the Reagan base did not bother to turn out to vote in 1992 to give him a second term.
A similar group of Republicans, Tea Party Patriots still raising Reagan’s ghost, have chosen not to support Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran for much the same reason. As that incessant radio commercial asks, “What happened to his Mississippi values?” — suggesting that Cochran has betrayed real conservative values with his compromising support of highway bills and farm bills designed to bring evil government money into our very poor state.
Now, I’ve never been much of a Thad fan, but watching him run yet again for the future of his party, Mississippi and its people, when he could have packed it in and gone home, is probably one of the more courageous moments I have ever witnessed in Mississippi politics. He’s old and he’s tired. That is evident. Yet, he has fought on in spite of vicious opposition and his own poorly managed campaign.
Certainly, his loved ones would be more than happy for him to come home and simply be appreciated for a successful political career and a job well done. Cochran has done a good job for our state and our country. But after 36 years, this could very well be the end of the line for the Grand Ole Patron.
Some argue the Tea Party hit its high water mark with its turnout for the June 3 primary. However, they have not yet begun to fight. The negative ads will keep coming, more money will pour into his challenger’s coffers and Chris McDaniel will become the darling of the Koch Brothers and Fox News. Thad Cochran will be decried as all that is wrong with Washington D.C. and Mississippians will be seeing a lot more of Sarah Palin.
» READ MORE: Sticker shock? Each Cochran-McDaniel vote costs $40-plus
» READ MORE: Weary? Cochran-McDaniel runoff means more politicking
» READ MORE: Tea party officer, others trapped in courthouse in middle of night
More importantly, the Republican establishment will have to be more cautious now after McDaniel’s strong primary showing. They cannot afford to make him a pariah. Haley Barbour and his lobbying firm will start hedging their bets in preparation for the beginning of the Tea Party takeover of Mississippi’s GOP. It’s a seed Haley helped to sow, and as one of D.C.’s highest paid lobbyists, he will want to remain in the best position to reap.
In the interest of reaping a bit myself, I would like to offer some campaign slogan suggestions to the McDaniel juggernaut as they bring home the victory on June 24.
» Vote Chris McDaniel: Because Ted Cruz Needs a Drinking Buddy
» Vote Chris McDaniel: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Government Money
» Vote Chris McDaniel: Sarah Palin Can See He’s an Ass from her Front Porch
» Vote Chris McDaniel: The Senator Mississippi Deserves
I’ve got a million of them, and my fee is minimal by our new over-priced political campaign standards. Business groups like the National Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Realtors spent a lot of money trying to defeat McDaniel before the primary. They may have believed he was bad for business before he pulled more votes than Thad, but they will not run the risk of alienating him further before a run off. Would they send money his way? McDaniel has likely cashed the check already.
To be fair, young Chris McDaniel might get up to Washington and grow on the job, become a fine Senator, the Tea Party Flag Bearer saving our state and nation from imminent peril. Political races have always been urgent, ugly and tough. The key is to get elected since the work of the government in some form, big or small, must go on.
Contrary to what those Chicken-Little Republicans may scream, the sky is not falling: a victory by McDaniel on June 24 does not give Travis Childers any more of a chance to win. There is little danger of Childers becoming our first Democrat in the U.S. Senate since John Stennis, no matter how many guns he totes. This is a Red State and, as McDaniel’s victory indicates, turning Blood Red by the minute.
It is a shame that the GOP establishment did not encourage others to consider running in this vitally important election or, at the very least, ensure that Cochran was ready to run a rough campaign. Even Haley Barbour, who is not helping Cochran for free, admitted in an interview with the Huffington Post, that Cochran did not have “an active political operation” and that they were “trying to ramp something up.” Haley excused himself, “you can’t just get to 30,000 feet over night. It takes time.” Well, he’s got three weeks left.
Haley, of course, would have won this Senate seat handily, regardless of how many prisoners he’s freed. Why he didn’t run is vexing.
Our current Secretary of State is our best candidate for the U.S. Senate, but he also decided not to run. Delbert Hosemann is a Republican even a Yellow Dog Democrat could vote for. Thoughtful and deliberate, Hosemann speaks more like a genuine public servant than a political grandstander. While he has served mostly in executive capacities, Hosemann has the makings of a true Statesman, reminiscent of another of our State’s more soft-spoken and thoughtful executives, former Gov. William Winter. Winter lost out on his only bid for the United States Senate, defeated in 1984 by Thad Cochran who had already served a six-year term.
If McDaniel wins on June 24, the Tea Party will gain the foothold it needs and he will become the establishment candidate. We can all hope he performs well and for the benefit of the entire state. No doubt, he will be there for quite some time.
» David Dallas is a political writer. He worked for former U.S. Sen. John Stennis and authored Barking Dawgs and A Gentleman from Mississippi.