In my last piece on Y’allPolitics, I talked about the fact that it was time for Chris McDaniel to gracefully exit the race. The initial sting has worn off. The upset shocked a lot of people (including yours truly).
That was last Wednesday.
Now, I’ve seen bouncers in a bar. When they’re dealing with a drunk, emotional person that’s causing a scene, they first normally try to low key it and get them to walk out of the bar with a little dignity. But there comes a point if they’re belligerent where you have to grab them by the scruff of the neck and throw them out.
That time has come.
McDaniel has shown that, in the name of his ego, he’s willing to burn the GOP house down, election law or facts be damned. He’s still literally claiming he’s the ‘Republican nominee’ even though he lost the primary by almost 7,000 votes or 1.8%. That’s close, but it’s not THAT close. As an elected official and someone who sought the party’s nomination, the time for him to walk himself out of the bar has passed. It’s time to throw him out by the scruff of his neck.
There are really two folks that this unpleasant task falls on . . . Joe Nosef and Phil Bryant.
As stated in the earlier piece, Joe Nosef as Chairman of the GOP has the bigger picture and the longer term to think about. Someone cannot, I repeat cannot, seek the nomination of the party and then not support the winner or even signal that they might not. And Thad Cochran has won the race. In fact, McDaniel has pretty clearly threatened to support Travis Childers and a Twitter-based kook-fest has erupted over a write-in campaign that’s not only not legal, but is being tacitly encouraged by McDaniel refusing to concede.
Phil Bryant, known as the state’s first ‘Tea Party Governor’ and the titular head of the Republican party, was way out front for Thad Cochran and did radio and TV ads as well as in person campaign stops. His political bet and his loyalty paid off. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but to the public, it looks like McDaniel and his merry band of state senators are running around unchecked and there seem to be no consequences whatsoever for their actions. As the “Tea Party Governor”, It’s up to him to bring together the fractious feelings by being conciliatory to his friends in the Tea Party where appropriate and by being tough or even politically brutal where appropriate. It has to be communicated privately and publicly to McDaniel and all of his support infrastructure that going on some half-cocked wild-ass goose chase that ends up with nothing but goofball conspiracy theories and racially inflammatory rhetoric will be fought with every ounce of political power right-thinking people can muster. Elections have consequences. Votes have been tallied. This thing is over. While there may be some isolated incidents of clerical error (as there are in any election in history), finding enough votes to make a difference would be a mathematical impossibility.
Meanwhile, there’s a vacuum that’s been created by the party apparatus not closing ranks and enforcing just very basic “blocking and tackling” party management. That vacuum is being filled by the most vile comments, behavior and crazy conspiracy theories that I’ve ever seen in 10 years of doing Y’allPolitics (and trust me, that’s saying something). Some of it is literally beyond description. The vast majority is being done by people who don’t even live here. But regardless, it’s distracting and it’s keeping the party’s eye off the ball, which should be squarely focused on exposing Travis Childers for who he is, what he stands for and what a disaster his career in Congress really was.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that the longer the McDaniel circus goes on, the worse it is Cochran. I don’t really subscribe to that theory. I think the longer the McDaniel circus goes on, the more he will marginalize himself and the more his close supporters will expose themselves scaring away a lot of his previous voters. My sense of all of this is that there is an extremely small and vocal minority (maybe comprising 5-10% of McDaniel voters) who are so full of the Kool-Aid that they’ll never support Cochran, Bryant or anyone else in the ‘establishment’ for ever again. So be it. They need to be popped off the face of the MS GOP like a zit. The vitriol they’re spewing is bad for Mississippi and the Republican party and if they need to start their own party or go identify with Democrats or the Green Party or Libertarians, let ‘em have the hell at it. Let them spend 50 years building a political party apparatus and see how hard it is. They’re in for one hell of a rude awakening. If they regroup and target Tate or Phil in 2015, after the shenanigans they’ve pulled, it will only look like a revenge deal and I don’t think voters or big money out of state donors in the Tea Party Elite will sign on en masse for that, especially after this incident. However, beyond the political party implications, this whole deal makes Mississippi look awful and I promise that the people that slither away after this thing over don’t give a gee-whiz about the state or the people in it. They’ll be on to the next wacko conspiracy and we will be here with the open wounds.
I think the vast majority of McDaniel voters are conservatives who are disaffected with DC and what goes on inside the beltway. They’re mad and justifiably so. McDaniel voters and Cochran voters just disagree about who the rage ought to be pointed toward.
A McDaniel supporter non-vote, a write in vote or a vote for Travis Childers is a vote for Obama and Harry Reid. I just don’t think in my heart of hearts that McDaniel self-styled ‘conservative’, ‘taxed enough already’ voters are willing to see two more years of a Harry Reid/Obama senate when they can elect Thad Cochran and have a real chance at turning the tide in how the country is being run.
I know Bryant and Nosef are receiving pressure from the ‘Tea Party Wing’ of the party, but I can tell you that the natives in the ‘Establishment’ camp are now starting to get restless too. There are winners and losers and folks are just going to have to pick which group they’re going to be in and on this one, you can’t “split the baby.” Someone’s going to be mad at the end of this. This needs to be done in the open where everyone can see it and let the party vote to certify and get this thing over with. Everyone’s been more than patient to let this little temper tantrum play out. But this situation is out of control and the requisite force behind the scenes and publicly needs to be exerted to stop this circus and end this with a shred of dignity. And quickly.