A lot has happened since last Wednesday when we broke the news about the Firearm Freedom Day rally in Guntown and the involvement of a vendor named Brian Pace with Pace Confederate Depot.
We’ve done a ton of research since then and will be bringing more of that information forward, but there are so many moving parts, the first thing that we are going to focus on is who has done what since the story broke on YP and the subsequently on media outlets such as NBC and TPM.
Pace was reached by Daniel Strauss at TPM and commented as follows . . .
“If you feel like segregation is what you want to do then that’s your freedom of association, that’s your constitutional right. That’s basically the way we look at it. If you believe in segregation you know that you have a freedom to segregate if you want to, if you don’t believe in segregation then that’s your free choice,” Pace said.
If you want a sneak peak about what else is out there, go google the following string . . . “brian pace” council of conservative citizens (WARNING – It gets pretty disturbing pretty fast)
The bottom line is that the campaign appears to be hunkering down and hoping this all goes away. But to talk about that in further depth, let’s go into the chronology of what we know and can document. I’ve linked a lot of live facebook comments. To the extent that any of them disappear (and several things that I’ve seen have disappeared since last Thursday), I have screenshots to replace the links with.
July 6, 2013 – the first time we can document Chris McDaniel is invited to Fire Arm Freedom Day. This one was at the Corinth courthouse. Brian Pace, per his personal facebook page, is also there and exhibiting.
August 24, 2013 – the second time we can document Chris McDaniel is invited and attends Fire Arm Freedom Day (FFD). This one in Senatobia.
February 15, 2014 – The FFD group announces (Screenshot) that there will be a Fire Arms Freedom Day held on May 17, 2014 in Guntown.
February 16, 2014 – The FFD page announces on Facebook that McDaniel will attend the May 17 rally and will keynote. On the same day, Mississippi Gun News posts the story and a copy of the invite with both McDaniel and Pace’s name on it.
March 2, 2014 – FFD posts that McDaniel may not make the event due to proximity to primary but would send someone in his place.This item updated from original post based on new content from twitter user
March 17, 2014 – Event organizer Jay Anthony on his personal FB page announces that “Chris McDaniel’s campaign just called and have re-confirmed to speak at the May Rally for ½ hour, along with his campaign Mgr. Ms. State Senator Melanie Sojourner. They will have a booth set up by 10AM.”
March 24, 2014 – Citizens Militia of Mississippi also posts an updated version of the invitation with Chris McDaniel speaking and Pace Confederate Depot on the invite
March 31, 2014 – YallPolitics emails McDaniel campaign to ask whether or not McDaniel is confirmed to the event.
April 2, 2014
3:00 p.m. – Original story runs
At 3:30, the campaign officially comments as follows – “He is not confirmed.”
Throughout the afternoon TPM and NBC and a dozen other smaller outlets pick up the story.
In the TPM piece, Melanie Sojourner was quoted as follows:
By about 6 p.m. on Wednesday, the flyer for the event dropped McDaniel’s name (but it still included the name of McDaniel’s campaign manager, state Sen. Melanie Sojourner). Sojourner said that she saw that she and McDaniel had been listed as planning to attend the event.
“I saw that they had. Neither one of us were confirmed (emphasis added) and that call has been made and supposedly they’re putting out the correction,” Sojourner said. “There were several Second Amendment groups that were planning different events and we’re both very strong Second Amendment supporters and so there were several events that were planned and it was basically just kind of the discussion was ‘well when you get some things done and scheduled let us know’ but there was never any confirmation on exact events or what was happening.”
April 2 @ 8:30 p.m. – In reply to the question “Who declined for McDaniel”, FFD posts on FB Page in the comments “melanie sojourner messaged me neither coming” (Screenshots in case content removed).
April 3, 2014 9:00 a.m. – Y’allPolitics runs version 2.0 of the story with more information that had been gleaned on social media.
April 8 – Upon reaching out to Campaign Communications Director Noel Fritsch along with McDaniel himself, Melanie Sojourner and Keith Plunkett via email and requesting some clarification on some of these discrepancies, YallPolitics receives the reply from Fritsch, “This is a Hail Mary. There will be no sit down. His reference to “not communicating well” stems from our ignoring him. He is angry we don’t take him seriously”.
What’s above are the facts. Now here’s my opinion.
The official line from the campaign remains “Chris McDaniel never agreed to attend the event and will not attend”. Notice the parsing of words without reference to the campaign manager, Melanie Sojourner, who was also on the original FFD invite. It would appear they’re preparing to leave her out in the wind to twist.
In my mind, all of this brings up the follow questions,
1. Has Melanie Sojourner ever talked to Jay Anthony by phone, email, text or Facebook? If so, did she discuss Melanie and Chris being on the event for May 17 at 3:00 p.m. on 3/16-17 (to confirm) as Jay Anthony and Freedom Firearms Day posted and/or on 4/2 per FFD’s facebook post (then cancelling)? Has anyone from the campaign communicated directly or indirectly with Jay Anthony and/or FFD organizers since the YallPolitics story broke? If so, what was said.
2. Why doesn’t the campaign just say, “We were confirmed, but when we found out about Brian Pace and what he stands for we pulled out of the event because that’s not who we are or what we believe?” Why say McDaniel never agreed to attend when there is a truckload of evidence that the campaign officially did or wanted people to think they were going? Why has this been made so complicated?
3. What on earth is Melanie Sojourner’s role in Chris McDaniel’s campaign universe? As campaign manager, is she in entirely over her head (bless her heart)? Who is actually running the show? If a campaign manager cannot officially confirm an event for the candidate, who exactly can?
4. Why are facebook posts related to this topic disappearing at an alarming rate (most in the last 24 hours)?
Someone’s reflexes and instincts and how they react under pressure tell you a lot about who they are and what they’re made of. McDaniel has branded himself as a principled man who will stand up and fight, a la Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, regardless of the circumstances. The biggest issue at this point is this . . . within a half hour of being presented with a tough decision, the campaign in my opinion and based on the data above, immediately scurried went into “hunker down” mode. If this is what happens to a campaign based on an inquiry from a part-time blogger from Jackson, imagine what would happen with the New York Times or MSNBC sets teams of professional reporters and researchers into action on a story McDaniel is involved in or to look into his past. What happens if he gets through a primary? Will anything else come out? How forthcoming will he be? How well can he stand up to pressure? Can he put together and lead a team that can communicate and react well?
There’s no question that there is a palpable anti-incumbent sentiment in the electorate, even in Mississippi. To capitalize, McDaniel has two main issues. First, even though there is an anti-incumbent sentiment, most likely Republican voters aren’t “mad” at Thad Cochran. Most of them have voted for him and supported him on multiple occasions. They might now wish that he was tactically more bombastic and more angry himself, but that’s just not apparently how he’s wired. Second, in order to get voters to cross the chasm to vote for someone new, there’s a competency threshold that McDaniel has to cross. Since he is so new to most of the electorate (based on name ID), all most folks will judge him on is how his campaign is run. Some things to think about . . .
1. The campaign’s handling of this story
2. The fact that the campaign had to substantially revise downward their last FEC contribution report
3. His votes in the Senate during the 2013 legislative session including taking “principled stands” like voting to confirm the MS State Superintendent of Education and voting ‘present’ instead of ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on the Department of Education final appropriations bill that included Common Core funding
It would appear that Chris McDaniel and the team of people he’s put around him may not quite be up to that task at this point in the campaign.
As disclosed on several prior occasions, the author of this article has made a reportable contribution to Thad Cochran this campaign cycle. Please factor that into your reading of this piece.