Though you wouldn’t know it by reading a newspaper or reading a national political website, Friday was an unmitigated disaster for Mississippi Democrats.
The most obvious manifestation of that was the fact that their once fair-haired golden boy, former Congressman Gene Taylor, switched to run in the Republican primary. Let that sink in a minute. A 10 term Democrat congressman made the political calculus that running as a Democrat in Mississippi made being elected impossible in South Mississippi.
Of course they moneyed-elite in the Mississippi Democratic Trust told ‘ol Gene, “don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out and good riddens.”
We've completed trade talks with the GOP for Gene Taylor. We agreed they could have him so long as they let him run their campaigns.
— MS Democratic Trust (@MSDemTrust) February 28, 2014
They’ve had a lot of practice disavowing party switchers in the last few years. But behind their jeers, there’s sadness and a tacit recognition of just how bad a shape the party is in. And it seems to continue to get worse.
The second piece of bad news was that Travis Childers is now their standard bearer. The best state Democrats could do was find a guy that four years ago got beat by 15 points . . . in his own district . . . as an incumbent. Cochran will wipe the floor with Childers. Childers as much said so in late 2013. Should McDaniel pull off the upset in the Republican primary, a Childers v. McDaniel race would be a real one. It may take on a north vs. south flair. Childers would likely do better north of I-20 and McDaniel would do better in the south part of the state. That’s certainly not a gimme for Mississippi Republicans (think Christine O’Donnell).
Suffice it to say that the rest of the slate of Democrats for federal office is less than inspiring.
Taylor vs. Palazzo
The first thing that this Republican primary is going to do is help Thad Cochran . . . a lot. There will be a lot of energy in that primary. To the extent that Taylor can drag votes that would ordinarily be Democratic primary votes, those votes will inevitably trend to Cochran. McDaniel really stepped in it on his comments on Katrina, and no one (elected officials, media, coastal business leaders) seem to be coming to his defense.
Taylor is certainly a real candidate and a threat to Palazzo, though I would say at this point he’s an underdog in the Republican primary. Sure Taylor is likeable, but he also has that stench of political expediency and seems to be willing to say or do anything at any moment. Let’s be honest, if Taylor were any more about convenience, he’d have an Icee Machine and a Slim Jim rack installed in his office (h/t Dennis Miller).
From the YP archives on Taylor . . .
It was a huge joke in 2008 when he finally voted for Pelosi. Members on the House floor gave him a standing ovation. He used to vote for Jack Murtha as a protest vote. Why did he ultimately vote for Pelosi? Because he didn’t like John Boehner. “Taylor has said that he voted for Pelosi mainly because he disagreed strongly with her opponent, Rep. John Boehner.”. That’s not exactly what you want to be on record for if you’re running in a Republican congressional primary. Of course, neither Pelosi or Boehner have changed much since 2010, so which is it? Who would Taylor support for Speaker?
Then, when Palazzo came after him in 2010, he admitted that (1) he didn’t remember who he voted for in 2000 and 2004 (seriously?), and then he said he would vote for Ike Skelton for Speaker if he won in 2010. Skelton wasn’t even running for Speaker. Then just recently, he said that he was a bad Democrat and would essentially be just as bad a Republican.
We will be unpacking a lot of Taylor’s quotes, but he will have a running ton of quotes and votes to reconcile running as a Republican. The question is, will the press be exploring this? The Sun Herald endorsed him and other media members sternly reminded us about the importance of seniority. Now, let’s see what they do this time.
As for Childers (bless his heart), he has wear chaps for riding the fence so often. His former Chief of Staff tried the Childers playbook again in 2010 and got clobbered by Alan Nunnelee. Again, go the right hand side of this page and type Travis Childers in the search box. We have the full archive of the rise and fall of Travis Childers in all of his fence-straddling glory.
Some are openly suggesting that if Cochran wins that Childers will stand down and withdraw. That would even be more of a disaster for the party than just not fielding a nominee.
However, dispatching Childers politically should be pretty easily. He has just not kept good political company. He was so twisted up in 2010 on even a FLOTUS appearance he had to disavow it politically. Just ask him the question, “Did you support Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in 2012?” My sense is that he won’t answer it. If he does, he’s screwed either way.
Folks (and members of the Mississippi media establishment), the YP archive is intact. Use it if you dare. Friday, February 28 is the reason that we “feed the beast” at YallPolitics day after day and year after year. It’s all there. Archived for your review. We will be revisiting the archive extensively over the next few months and hope you will too.