The divide between Tea Party and establishment Republican leadership continues to provide headlines. First, GOP Chairman Joe Nosef talked to NBC about Chris McDaniel’s comments on his former radio program. Then MS Tea Party president, Laura Van Overschelde, called on Nosef to resign for failing to be neutral as he is required to be under state party bylaws.
Breitbart reported from leaked email conversations that Nosef said, “‘These people are getting so fanatical [that] this will put everything in danger regardless of who wins’ the upcoming GOP primary, he wrote, adding, ‘I refuse to continue to spend time dealing with these people.'” Nosef clarified:
[B]y “these people,” in the email he didn’t mean all Tea Partiers. “I would never say I am done working with the tea party itself,” Nosef said. “In fact as a tea party member who actually is out there in the state working told me today – the real grassroots tea party people don’t care about all this inside baseball stuff. They are working to win elections. So I would never stop working with them. When I said ‘these people’ I was speaking of some of their leadership that is chronically against all of our elected officials. Literally these people believe our entire federal delegation needs to go. That’s how different their leadership is than their voters.”
The constant “disagreeableness” of the Tea Party has caused Frank Corder of Y’all Politics to call them the “Conservative Thought Police.” Bobby Harrison of the Daily Journal writes that the Primary campaign could draw a record amount of participation this year:
The McDaniel/Cochran campaign has the potential to attract many newcomers to the Republican Party primary. The race, it appears by the number of television commercials already being aired and the animosity already being displayed by both campaigns, will be hotly contested. And there is no party primary on the Democratic side of any significance. Cochran, of course, is the sixth-term incumbent and deeply entrenched as part of the state Republican Party organization. McDaniel is the upstart, the Tea Party favorite. Now, in many instances, Tea Party members have been long-time, entrenched Republicans. But in other instances, Tea Party members, although socially and fiscally conservative, have never identified with the Republican Party, other than to vote for the Republican candidate with whom they felt most closely aligned. Many of these people have become politically active for the first time thanks to the Tea Party, though they have been long-time Republican voters.
The McDaniel-Cochran race is quickly morphing into a contest between those Tea Party members and the state’s Republican Party establishment, or GOP old guard. After all, the Barbours, as Republican establishment as can be found, are running an independent group touting Cochran and speaking rather despairingly of McDaniel and of groups supporting him.
Haley Barbour called the national Tea Party-affiliated groups supporting McDaniel “out-of-state phonies.” The former governor – the most prolific political fundraiser in the state’s history – was never averse to out-of-state support when he was campaigning.
After the Primary season is over, all Republicans will need to come together for the General Election. Harrison concludes:
The establishment Republicans have depended on the Tea Party-like voters – many of whom are supporting McDaniel – to turn Mississippi into one of the most dependable red states. They will continue to need that support whether McDaniel wins or loses.
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