“The McDaniel campaign, they seem to always be on the wrong side of a door,” said former Gov. Haley Barbour. “Have you ever heard of a group of people who were in places they weren’t supposed to be more often?”
Gov. Barbour’s question is a good one. It’s curious how Sen. Chris McDaniel’s campaign has been so scandalous and yet so successful leading into the June 24 Republican Primary against incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Barbour is referring to the two much publicized incidents, beginning with the group of McDaniel supporters that slipped into the Madison County nursing home where Sen. Cochran’s wife Rose is bedridden to take her picture for political gain and followed by the curious incident at the Hinds County Courthouse where McDaniel staffers gained entry to the building around 2 a.m. long after election workers had departed.
Both incidents are under investigation with arrests made in the first. No illegal activity is believed to have come from the late night courthouse visit, but it’s the latest instance of red flag raising regarding the McDaniel campaign.
Despite the drama, McDaniel still managed to earn the most votes in the June 3 primary and appears to be the favorite to win the June 24 runoff.
There’s been no unethical behavior alleged within the Cochran campaign, but there were many stories on election day that questioned his desire to be involved in the race to begin with.
There were reports of the 76-year-old senator appearing disoriented on campaign stops and rumors that he preferred to retire, but was strong armed by leaders in the Republican Party to stay in the race.
If re-elected for a seventh term, Cochran is expected to rise to chairman of the powerful appropriations committee in the U.S. Senate. That would be a huge coup for Mississippi, which more than any other state relies on federal monies.
That is the battle cry of McDaniel, however, to get Mississippi and every other state off the federal government teat, regardless of the consequences here at home.
He and his supporters believe that despite the probable hard row to hoe that would follow the loss of federal funds in the Magnolia State, it is the answer to get America back on a more prosperous and sustainable track for the future.
Another conundrum to this race is the interest of non-Mississippians in its outcome. Close to $9 million was pumped into the primary from political groups outside of Mississippi, with McDaniel receiving the majority of it. More is certainly flowing in for the runoff.
It’s no mystery why non-Mississippians would like to see a 6-term U.S. senator with tremendous influence replaced with a freshman, but it’s odd that so many Mississippians would want the same.
Put it all together and you have the most fascinating race in the nation. Regardless of the outcome, June 24 will be a historic day in Mississippi politics.
Email Joel McNeece at firstname.lastname@example.org & follow him on Twitter @joelmcneece