Politics is a funny thing.
In late February, Mississippi political observers were looking to June 5 with a real sense that a donnybrook was about to ensue. In the Senate, the long talked about primary between incumbent Senator Roger Wicker and state Senator Chris McDaniel looked like it was going to happen for real. Challengers were lining up on the Democrat side praying that McDaniel could pull off the miracle and possibly help turn the seat blue a la Doug Jones in Alabama.
You were also looking at an open US Congressional Seat created by Gregg Harper not running for re-election. That was to be a battle-royale with 6 candidates that would effectively be decided by a June 5 primary and a subsequent runoff. And there were another 8-10 non-candidates that flirted with a run for the seat but that didn’t want to endure the fight.
But then something happened, or more to the point nothing happened. McDaniel evaded Wicker by hopping into the open seat for Cochran’s replacement, Cindy Hyde-Smith. That seemed to take most of the air out of the balloon in both the Democrat and Republican primaries in the Wicker race. And the race for #MS03 seems to have just dissipated as folks are campaigning but no one is spending any real money or throwing any punches.
The early thinking was that this was going to be a real dog fight. There were four credible candidates that could make this a real race. You had two locally elected officials, Michael Guest and Sally Doty, and two people that hailed from more of the business community in Whit Hughes and Perry Parker. In terms of outside money raised, Hughes and Guest seemed to have the broadest base. Parker had put up a substantial chunk of personal money into his campaign, but it doesn’t appear that he’s wielding that as an advantage over his opponents at this point. The early thinking was that he would pour money into TV in March and April and really pump up his name ID to be a player down the home stretch. Doty has not raised significant money.
All of the candidates have worked hard and been personally visible in the district. There have been a lot of campaign forums, radio interviews and meet-and-greet events.
Although some money has been spent by the campaigns, no one made any big waves early in terms of a substantial TV buy. What TV that has been purchased has all been positive testimonial stuff. And most shockingly, no one has thrown any sort of meaningful punch in terms of candidates contrasting themselves with each other (via TV ads or in any way that’s attracted earned media). It’s been deafening on that front. That may change the last couple of weeks in the primary, but one could argue that with less than three weeks to go in the primary and with all candidates lacking huge name IDs, it may be too late for that.
Certainly in a runoff, the gloves will likely come off. But it’s hard to believe that in a race as crowded and with the stakes as high as they are that no one has thrown the first meaningful punch, unless of course everyone thinks they’re going to make a runoff. But at least two of them would be wrong. Right now, there seems to be zero energy in that race.
Mississippi Senate Democratic Primary
This has all of the makings for a very interesting race, but it hasn’t been. You have state Rep. David Baria, who generally has the establishment of the state Democrats behind him. Then there’s Rep. Omeria Scott who will be making more of an appeal to the non-establishment Democrat base. And then there’s Howard Sherman. He’s put $500K in. He’s hired Democrat campaign heavyweight Joe Trippi. He’s had fundraisers by Hollywood A-Listers. And yet still, with less than three weeks to go, not a meaningful shot has been fired in that race either. There has been a little dust-up over Sherman’s residence and voting record, but that’s been about it. There’s been nothing that has really captured the electorate’s imagination.
The polling conducted by Y’all Politics says this race is a toss up between the three candidates.
To say the 2018 political year has been unpredictable is an understatement. But at this point, it was supposed to be more interesting than this.