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“Running Ethically In Mississippi”: With So Much At Stake, Can Travis Childers Walk The Tightrope?

Travis Childers, who served as a Democrat in Congress from May 13, 2008 to January 3, 2011, was never my kind of Democrat, but I am okay with that. I would not expect great things from him if he were to win a six-year term in the U.S. Senate representing the state of Mississippi. On most contentious issues, I’d expect him to vote with the Republicans in a (probably) vain effort to save his hide in his bid for reelection.

What interests me about this race is the ethics. It’s pretty clear that the Republican Party is badly split between supporters of incumbent Thad Cochran, who is a decent fellow, and his challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who runs in neo-confederate circles and has the support of an extreme Tea Party faction. This wedge pre-exists anything Childers might do to exploit it. If Childers can convince a significant percentage of McDaniel supporters to vote for him, he can actually win this seat, but it is not clear how he can go about doing that without leveraging the racism that is at the core of opposition to Cochran.

Cochran was expected to lose his run-off with McDaniel but exceeded expectations by convincing a not inconsiderable number of black voters to back him. The Tea Party faction is claiming that a lot of these black voters violated the law by voting in the Republican run-off after voting in the Democratic primary. That issue can be settled in court, but regardless of legal merits, Cochran’s open solicitation of black votes is seen as dirty pool by McDaniel’s supporters who think that a Republican primary should be decided by exclusively Republican voters regardless of what the law specifies.

Travis Childers has the option of exacerbating this racial tension for his own political advantage, but this would be the wrong thing to do. Yet, if he doesn’t do it, he will almost certainly lose. In fact, even if he does do it, he will probably lose.

Democrats in Washington are watching the feud cautiously, not yet convinced it will put even Mississippi in play. The Democratic nominee, Mr. Childers, has raised little money and was always seen as a good candidate against Mr. McDaniel but as a marginal one against Mr. Cochran.

Conservative activists are not so sure. Dwayne Hall, vice president of the Miller County Patriots, a Tea Party group in Texarkana, Ark., says he has set up a Google alert for the McDaniel-Cochran fight and emails his network of fellow activists all the news from Mississippi.

“I’m no longer a member of the Republican Party, and I’d expect a lot of my fellow patriots to resign, too,” he said, adding: “I’m perfectly willing to do a protest vote in November if that’s my best option. I’m keeping that option open.”

So, how can Childers convince people like Dwayne Hall to advocate on his behalf without dirtying himself with the racial politics of it all? Childers needs to nurture that “protest vote,” but he doesn’t want to shame himself in the process. So far, he’s walking the tightrope.

The turmoil has given Mr. Cochran’s Democratic challenger, former Representative Travis Childers, an opening to exploit the divide in what is otherwise seen as a race in which he trails badly. “Senator Cochran does not have the confidence of his state, let alone his own party,” Mr. Childers said.

It won’t be easy to maintain that kind of balance with so much at stake. I hope Childers will be able to look back at his campaign and be proud of how he ran it regardless of the outcome.


By: Martin Longman, Washington Monthly Political Animal, July 6, 2014


July 7, 2014 Posted by | Mississippi, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sane Is Better Than Insane”: Thad Cochran Wins One For Sanity Over Tea Partier Chris McDaniel

I know, I know. Fellow liberals, you were rooting for Chris McDaniel to beat Thad Cochran on Tuesday night in Mississippi. I understand. Just a few days ago, I was, too. Put more crazy in the national GOP. Make them look that much more embarrassing. Bring one more nut to Washington who talks about hot Latino babes and all the rest of it.

Besides which, if McDaniel had won, the Democrat, Travis Childers, would have had a shot. Childers would scarcely qualify as a Democrat in about 17 or 18 states, but the Senate is the Senate, full of weird senators, for better or worse. Every state gets two. Why not have one be a guy who’ll vote (we presume, shakily) to make Harry Reid the majority leader of the Senate?

Nah. First of all, the idea that Childers ever had any kind of chance of winning a Senate seat in Mississippi was a pipe dream. The voters of Mississippi aren’t going to send a Democratic senator to Washington, D.C., in the era of Barack Obama. I don’t care what the circumstances are. Remember that old joke about incumbents being safe as long as they weren’t caught with a live boy or a dead girl? During the Obama presidency, a Mississippi Republican could be caught with a dead Bichon Frise, and the only question he’d be asked is why he favored a dog with such a gay-sounding Frenchie name. Childers wasn’t going to beat McDaniel.

As to whether Democrats would prefer to have Cochran or McDaniel in the Senate, this takes us back to the old Marxist dialectic, “The worse, the better.” That is, the worse things get for our enemies, the more extreme and crazy they get, the better things are for us, because the worse things get for them, the more quickly the public will see that the other side has lost its freaking mind.

This was the stratagem of leftists everywhere for a long, long time. Not that I’m making any direct comparisons here—OK?—but this is what the socialists and communists thought in Germany in 1933. The right, they were sure, is going to discredit itself. And they were correct. But it took 12 years and around 9 million or 10 million dead human beings. That’s enough collateral damage to prove the theorists wrong.

No, sorry. Boring as it may seem, be glad that Cochran eked out his win. Be happy that sane won. Here’s a little political truism for you: Sane is better than insane. We don’t need more Ted Cruzes in the Senate. We don’t need more candidates endorsed by Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. We just. Don’t. Need. Them. We don’t need one more extremist GOP candidate who is going to make those cowardly Republicans in the Senate conclude that they have to live in fear of losing to some certifiable, fact-bending jelly-head of the extreme right. We really don’t.

Cochran will never vote for anything Obama wants. No minimum wage hike, no carbon tax, no nothing. I understand that. But he’ll be in there, assuming he wins and stays alive, until January 2021. That is, through what might be Hillary Clinton’s first term. If the GOP intra-bloodbath happens in 2017 after she’s won, Cochran, who won’t be running again and just won’t give a shit, might actually vote for one or two things Clinton asks for. McDaniel, obviously, would not.

And consider this. The Tea Party people are furious about this outcome. A very prominent Tea Party activist tweeted Tuesday night: “If Cochran wins this #mssen race, the GOP is done. They teamed up with Dems to steal a race. Kiss the base goodbye.”

So there we are. Be for sanity. Be against insanity. The dialectic never worked, even back in the glory days. Chris McDaniel belongs where he belongs—chasing ambulances in Pascagoula, or wherever it is he’s from. And his election would not hasten the Republican apocalypse. If anything, Cochran’s would. More Tea Party losses in races like this are what’s needed.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 25, 2014

June 26, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Mississippi, Tea Party | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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