BOBBY HARRISON: Two generally civil candidates rip into one another in the GOP

As director of the intramural program, Carlos McDaniel was everyone’s best friend at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville back in the day – longer ago than I want to admit.

Carry on a conversation with the late Carlos McDaniel’s son, Chris, who is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, and it is obvious the apple did not fall far from the tree. Chris McDaniel is polite and cordial, though a little more formal than his down-home father. He loves to debate the great issues of the day and can do so without being disagreeable.

Thad Cochan has been literally an icon in Mississippi politics and has long been well respected in the halls where the country’s greatest powers gather. Yet, through the years, he has remained humble, cordial and accessible.

Cochran has been his own man, whether calling a reporter late in the evening to answer questions or walking in a room minus the typical senatorial entourage to answer questions. But before he answered those questions, it is likely that Cochran would inquire about how the questioner was doing – not in a fake, politics-type way, but in a genuine Southern way.

Yet these two paragons of Southern civility are engaged in a bare-knuckled, jaw-jarring, personal, in-your-face campaign. Cochran, the sixth-term incumbent, is fighting for his political life against McDaniel, a second-term state senator.

For McDaniel to be successful, the Tea Party favorite had to attack Cochran’s lengthy congressional record, which started in 1972 when he was elected to the U.S. House. Cochran, who has not had a serious opponent since 1984, has enjoyed amazingly low negatives among the general public during his lengthy political career.

Virtually nobody in Mississippi disliked Cochran for years. To have a chance of defeating Cochran, McDaniel had to build up the negative perception of him. And he has tried to do that by talking about his record in the U.S. House and Senate.

Cochran supporters, though, would argue that in talking about the incumbent’s record, McDaniel has done so by telling only half truths and distortions.

Daily Journal
5/29/14