As the Thad Cochran vs. Chris McDaniel race starts gaining momentum before the June 3 primary, candidates usually spend their last few weeks of the campaign shoring up and/or riling up their base.
On May 17, two weeks before the election, Fire Arms Freedom Day will be held in Guntown, MS and will feature State Sen. Chris McDaniel as the keynote speaker and his campaign manager, State Senator Melanie Sojourner as a speaker, as well. McDaniel has already been to at least one of these events in late Summer 2013.
Listed on the billing for this event are several local Tea Party groups and active Tea Party leaders. Self-styled militia groups like Citizens Militia of Mississippi and Gulf Coast Rangers will be in attendance. Also listed on the billing for the event is Pace Confederate Depot.
It gets worse.
Brian Pace, lead proprietor of Pace Confederate Depot (as well as the Confederate Patriot Voters United), is a self-avowed “racial preservationist” and has publicly declared interest, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in creating a separatist “white state”. In a 2012 story on WMC-TV he left little to the imagination.
Brian Pace is a self-described racial preservationist, who lives in Baldwyn, Mississippi.
“Whenever we had racial segregation things were much better off,” Pace said.
Pace founded the Council of White Patriot Voters last year.
“We’re a national membership organization fighting for equal rights for whites and the advancement of our people,” he explained.
The SPLC says the group’s agenda is to create a separate “white state” and that’s what landed Pace’s group on this hate map.
“You know, we’re not going run off and cry about it because, you know, that’s free publicity for us, so more power to them,” said Pace. “We’re just the same as what the NAACP is for blacks. We don’t hate anybody we just want to preserve our people.”
On his Confederate Patriot Voters United page, he says this about Southern Nationalism.
What is Southern Nationalism? Southern Nationalists are men, women, and children who identity as Southerners and love their nation the South. They are Unreconstructed Southerners working for a restored Confederate States of America. You can be Rich, Middle Class, or Poor. We treat everyone the same. The future of our Southern Nation depends on We The People. We can continue to be “Divided” and lose our Freedom & Liberty or “Unite” and secure a future for our Southern People. Please consider joining the Confederate Patriot Voters United. Your membership will always remain secret. However we need your help with public activism in 2014. Make A Stand ! Join the CPVU Today !
What does this all mean?
To have an avowed white separatist listed as a featured vendor at an event featuring a candidate for the United States Senate that’s been endorsed by Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project, Tea Party Patriots, Sarah Palin, and Phyllis Schlafly is bad to say the least. It reflects poorly on those who have endorsed him and may send some of his benefactors questioning their posture in the key last few weeks of the campaign. It unquestionably touches off all the wrong buttons on stereotypes that all but a marginalized handful of Mississippians have literally spent generations trying to shed.
Obviously, it reflects more than poorly on the McDaniel campaign and brings fresh questions about whether he’s ready for prime time.
The most generous interpretation is that his campaign staff was simply asleep at the wheel and not quite up to the task of running a campaign with this kind of national importance. Perception means everything and this looks ham-handed no matter how you slice it. This shows a lack of campaign discipline and it speaks of a tone-deafness of the inexcusable variety.
If it wasn’t just a mistake but more of a calculated outreach, then the implications are far worse.
Having this sort of element openly comingling with Tea Party Groups is what marginalizes these Tea Party candidates and hurts the larger Republican effort simply because the Tea Party is largely identified with the Republican Party. It’s why Tea Party success in elections has been spotty and unpredictable.
This was the potential doomsday scenario that “establishment” Republicans have been fearing in Mississippi. If Republicans were to elect a generally unvetted Chris McDaniel based on a “throw the bums out” mentality and then he gets to a general and loses, it’s a disaster. As idealistic as McDaniel posits himself, perceptions really do matter and if he wants to represent the state, he cannot be this tone deaf to where he goes and what he does.
Plus, he’s already out there on “hip-hop” culture and “waterboarding”.
It just wouldn’t be hard for a Democrat nominee to paint him as ultra-extremist and insensitive to race. That’s not exactly hard for national media to hang around a Mississippi Republican anyway. And based on that, national Democrats might pour $5-10 million into the state just to try and beat him. Again, I still differ from the national political chattering class that the Cochran vs. McDaniel race is even close right now. There’s scant evidence of a McDaniel uprising in the voter base at this moment, but if I’m wrong, that’s a scenario worth pondering.
Primaries are about vetting candidates to represent interests of the greatest number in general elections. Most of the state political media has been focused on the legislative session and has spent precious little time covering this race, but it’s for all the marbles and it’s about to go to another level.
UPDATE – 3:30 p.m.
YallPolitics received a response from the Chris McDaniel campaign. Campaign spokesperson Noel Fritsch stated via email, “He is not confirmed.”
More as we have it.
UPDATE – 9:20 a.m. 4/3/14
We found from subsequent postings on the FireArmFreedomDay Facebook page that Pace Confederate Depot was only a confirmed vendor at the event and not a “sponsor”. Those changes have been made to the original post. We stand by the rest of the story. Another major update will be coming shortly.
The author of this story has made a reportable contribution to the Thad Cochran campaign in this cycle. Please do your own research and factor that into your consideration.