Congressional District 1 special election field set (and crowded)

There is no shortage of candidates for Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District seat which was vacated when Alan Nunnelee died in February. The following candidates qualified for the non-partisan special election on May 12th:

  • Boyce Adams, Columbus businessman
  • Sam Adcock, Columbus businessman
  • Nancy Collins, State Senator
  • Ed Holliday, Tupelo dentist
  • Starner Jones, Pontotoc ER physician
  • Trent Kelly, Saltillo District Attorney
  • Chip Mills, Itawamba County prosecuting attorney
  • Greg Pirkle, Tupelo attorney
  • Henry Ross, Eupora attorney and former Mayor
  • Daniel Sparks, Oxford attorney
  • Mike Tagert, Northern District Transportation Commissioner
  • Quentin Whitwell, Oxford attorney and former Jackson city councilman
  • Walter Howard Zinn, Jr., Pontotoc attorney

Danny Bedwell, a businessman from Columbus, announced intentions to run but failed to qualify by gathering the required 1,000 signatures by the March 27th deadline.

If needed, a runoff election will be June 2.

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Establishment vs. Tea Party

With former Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour and his lobbying firm, Washington-BGR, fully behind Sen. Thad Cochran in his re-election bid, the Cochran campaign is painting support for challenger Chris McDaniel as all out-of-state and uninterested in Mississippi.

The 2014 Primary between Cochran and McDaniel will demonstrate definitively whether Mississippians are ready to sacrifice federal funding for smaller government or not.  As Wyatt Emmerich notes,

The race between Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran for U.S. senator is crystallizing Mississippi’s great political irony.

Mississippi is one of the most conservative states in the nation, yet it receives the most federal aid. We are the ultimate welfare state.

For decades, this little irony was swept under the rug. Our politicians would talk about cutting federal spending one day and boast about bringing home the pork the next.

With the scary ballooning of federal debt and the rise of the tea party, the McDaniel-Cochran race is finally forcing the issue. Mississippi voters are going to have to decide — is it ideology or pork they prefer.

Used to be a candidate like McDaniel couldn’t raise the money to rock the boat. This has changed. There are a half-dozen deep-pocketed national tea party PACs and they love McDaniel.

Barbour stated in Politico, “These guys and the McDaniel campaign — none of them are from Mississippi — will learn that Mississippians appreciate Thad Cochran for good reason.”  McDaniel is currently serving as a Mississippi state Senator, was born in Laurel, and attended William Carey University and University of Mississippi School of Law.

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McDaniel Outlines Priorities in Ocean Springs Town Hall

The Sun Herald covered U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel’s March 18th Town Hall in Ocean Springs.

While political advertisements have taken direct aim at his statement that he may not have voted for a Hurricane Katrina relief bill, McDaniel stated that he supports disaster relief but would insist upon safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse.

Repeatedly asserting the need to return to a constitutionally sized government, McDaniel named the Education, Commerce, and Transportation Departments and the IRS among those government organizations that need to be eliminated.   He indicated that the few essential services provided by those organizations could be handled within other “constitutional” departments or by local governments.

McDaniel supports the repeal of Obamacare, perks for lawmakers, and tax reform.  But he emphasized that his platform is bigger than just the Tea Party while emphasizing the need to return to constitutional government.

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The Fiscal Times: Meet Thad Cochran, An Endangered Senate Republican

Via Senator Thad Cochran is “one of the most endangered Senate Republicans up for reelection this year”

The Fiscal Times paints the stark contrast between the establishment Republican, Sen. Thad Cochran, and the Tea Party challenger, Chris McDaniel.  The following are pulled from The Fiscal Times:

There was a time when lawmakers boasted to their constituents about bringing home the bacon. . . Those times have changed, and now longtime pork-barrel specialists are more apt to have to apologize to their constituents for winning costly projects for their states than take a bow. . . The latest case in point is Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi — a powerful figure on the Senate Appropriations Committee who over the decades brought literally billions of dollars of largess to his home state.

Cochran’s opponent in a June 3 primary showdown, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, hopes to follow the lead of freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and go to Washington to rattle the china in Congress.

Leaving nothing to chance, Cochran has lined up endorsements from some of the biggest names in Mississippi politics — including former Gov. Haley Barbour and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

McDaniel has made federal spending the centerpiece of his campaign. Last October, in announcing he was challenging Cochran, he declared that the “era of big spending is over.”  In that regard, he is trying to exploit a growing fissure within the GOP between the far right’s antipathy to spending and special interest projects and the more traditional go-along-to-get-along ethos of Cochran and other more traditional congressional appropriators.

Analysts agree it will be a hard-fought primary; but more recently, some have said the race is tilting in Cochran’s favor.  The reason for that? “Mainly because Mississippi voters, even the ones who participate in a GOP primary, understand the value of Cochran’s seniority to a small poor state,” said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist who is tracking the race. “And Cochran’s voting record is mainly quite conservative.”

The Cochran-McDaniel campaign is shaping up to be the old guard vs. the new guard.  The Tea Party’s challenge to establishment Republicans is alive and well in Mississippi.  In the end, this election will be about whether voters put country or self-interest first.

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Miss. Paradox: Pork or Principle

The Dispatch’s opinion Mississippi Voices: Cochran’s tea party challenger Dispatch illuminates Mississippi’s conservative leaning, anti-big government principles yet desire to accept federal pork.  The Republican Primary contest between Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel highlights this divide and provides voters the fundamental difference between the two.