Runoff election preview

June 24th is the date for Mississippi’s runoff election.  Everyone in Mississippi can vote in the runoff except those that voted in the Democrat primary on June 3rd.

Thomas Carey, the third candidate who pulled enough votes in the Primary Election to force a runoff, became the most famous unknown in Mississippi politics by forcing the mud-slinging into another 3 grueling weeks.

Sam R. Hall predicts that the runoff will go to McDaniel since he has all the energy and Cochran has no momentum.  Dean Clancy at U.S. News & World Report thinks the Tea Party Will Win One in Mississippi this primary season and provides this analysis:

Cochran’s long record of voting for things that conservatives hate, like tax hikes, Medicare expansion and the Department of Education, puts his conservative bona fides in doubt in an era when the very definition of “conservative” — or rather, of “acceptable conservative incumbent voting behavior” — is changing. Republicans have always claimed to be for individual liberty, fiscal common sense and constitutionally limited government, but the five-year-old tea party movement has tried to get GOP incumbents to actually vote that way.

To progressives, Cochran and McDaniel must look like just another pair of right-wing white Southern Christian peas in a pod, voicing the same conservative boilerplate on almost every current issue. But to those who are actually engaged in the fight, the difference boils down to the willingness to fight, to draw and hold lines in the sand. And there Cochran has nothing to offer. He has never been a fighter and won’t ever be. But McDaniel might.

Behind that divide is a still deeper one, and that is between the pro-business and pro-market wings of the GOP. As the Washington Examiner’s astute Tim Carney nicely summarizes, in Mississippi you find, “Rich libertarian investors on McDaniel’s side. Rich Republican lobbyists on Cochran’s side. People who want smaller government because they believe it’s best versus people who want flexible Republicans elected — either because it profits them, or because they’re just loyal to the GOP.” He adds, “This has been the split in the GOP since the bailouts: K Street versus the Tea Party.”

Exactly. The “tea party versus establishment” fight pits pro-business Republicans against pro-market Republicans for control of the future of the party. Will the GOP fight for smaller, constitutionally limited government, or keep going along with ever-growing, never-limited government?

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air doesn’t worry about any latent impact on the General Election in November since both McDaniel and Cochran drew 4 times as many votes each compared to all Democrat votes cast in their primary.  McDaniel established his statewide credibility and may even cause some Cochran voters who questioned McDaniel’s gravitas to switch their vote.

The bigger question is how much more cash will flow into the election that has already seen record amounts. FreedomWorks was quick to express their continued support for McDaniel:

Drew Johnson opines in The Washington Times that the NRSC is Wasting Republican capital on Cochran in Mississippi by putting more money in the race.  He writes, “Unfortunately, the NRSC doesn’t see it that way. That’s because the organization is more interested in protecting GOP incumbents — even terrible ones — than working to elect the best Republican candidates.”  He continues:

Even if [Republicans could lose the Senate race in Mississippi], and Democrats picked up the seat held by Thad Cochran, it might be a better outcome for the GOP than keeping the disappointing Mr. Cochran in office. The NRSC fails to understand that a bad Republican can actually be worse for the party — and for America — than a Democrat. When someone like Mr. Cochran votes for tax increases, hikes spending and combats efforts to limit government, they both function as an additional Democratic vote in Congress anyway and damage voters’ perceptions of the Republican brand. As a result, they cost the GOP both policy victories and elections.

For the myriad of state officials that endorsed Sen. Cochran, this is a worst-case scenario.  Is it time to mend fences or expend more political capital?  One thing is for certain:  Except for political junkies, no one expected, let alone wanted, a runoff in this race!

For more information:

Post updated June 8th, 2014

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