The most up-to-date discussion known to me about what happened last Tuesday in the GOP primary in Mississippi was posted on the Breitbart website on July 1. Senator Cochran owed his razor-thin victory over rival Chris McDaniel to certain highly questionable practices. From all evidence, cross-over Democratic voters cast ballots in both the Democratic primary and the contest that Cochran waged against his Tea Party opponent. Most of these Democratic voters were blacks and according to the information revealed in the Breitbart report, a black Baptist minister from Meridian, Mississippi, Stevie Fielder admits to having taken $16,000 for soliciting votes for Cochran. Fielder paid each voter $15 for supporting the Republican incumbent; and the Cochran campaign staffer Saleem Baird, who provided the walking money, was entirely unconcerned about whether those recruited had already voted in the Democratic primary.
Oh, lest I forget, I should mention that Mississippi law prohibits the buying of votes; and any candidate who engages in this practice is automatically disqualified from office. In addition, many Democrats were voting twice contrary to state law. These illegalities led McDaniel to challenge in court what seem to have been fraudulent electoral results. The Baptist minister who came forth with the information about vote-buying appears to be genuinely contrite about having cooperated in Cochran’s shenanigans. He claims to have been lied to by establishment Republicans who accused McDaniel of being a raging bigot. Having looked closely at the situation, Fielders decided that the “campaign ads” misrepresented “McDaniel’s character.”
One might think that the illegalities connected to the Cochran race would interest the national press. Think again! Having looked at the national press, I’ve discovered that the only things commentators found wrong with the Mississippi primary are that 1. McDaniel is a sore loser; and 2. Tea Party racists don’t want blacks to vote in Republican primaries. A Washington Post account (June 25) by Jaime Fuller makes it appear that McDaniel’s main gripe is that Cochran’s Democratic voters did not intend to vote for the Republican Party this fall. This may violate a Mississippi election law requiring primary voters to have at least the intention of voting for the primary victor. But this intention, we are told, cannot be easily ascertained and therefore primary voters have not been rendered ineligible on the basis of what they may or may not do in the general election. Another reporter, Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast, mocks McDaniel as a hypocrite who “has taken advantage of the open primary system” even while criticizing Democrats for having done the same. Moreover, the Democrats who voted for Cochran were actually hurting their party: “Democratic strategists privately acknowledged that McDaniel gave them a chance to win the general election. Beating Cochran is much, much harder.”
The Huffington Post (June 26) and various black syndicated columnists have made it appear that McDaniel’s supporters are upset that blacks were even allowed to vote in a Republican primary. Apparently Tea Party candidates and their advocates, led by Rush Limbaugh, are so driven by racial animus that they’re angry that blacks even entered their electoral process. Cochran, we are made to believe, was right when he accused his opponents and their backers of wanting to turn back the clock on the civil rights era. The complaints coming from McDaniel’s backers about the outcome of last Tuesday’s election supposedly indicate inveterate bigotry.
There is not even a sliver of truth in these statements, except for the possibility that (for all I know) McDaniel may have voted in a Democratic primary. In any case he is contesting the primary results not because of the intention of the crossover voters but because of a multitude of so far underreported illegalities. If these infractions did occur, that would invalidate last week’s election. The charge of racism is an invention of the opposition, consisting of Cochran, the mainstream leftist press, and the GOP establishment. But that charge is nothing but a smear. It is not even the case that Cochran would be harder for the Democrats to beat than McDaniel. After what Cochran and his staff have done to anger the GOP base (most of which voted for McDaniel), it is highly doubtful that Cochran will be a shoe-in, even if he holds on as the primary victor. Complicating matters is that Cochran’s Democratic opponent, two-term Democratic Congressman Travis Childers, has a voting record on social issues that closely matches Cochran’s. Conservative Republicans in Mississippi are already organizing to vote for Childers if Cochran runs against him in the November election.
It is not at all surprising that the leftist media and the GOP establishment are getting behind an unsavory wheeler-dealer. They simply don’t want anyone as conservative as McDaniel getting elected as senator. Cochran is as far to the right as a politician should be from their point of view. On some big issues, such as amnesty, the Republican National Committee and the national media see eye to eye. Furthermore, neither wants another shock such as the one that occurred in Virginia when Eric Cantor was defeated in a primary by David Brat. If Cochran does get reelected, he’ll owe a great deal to McCain, Mc Connell, Grassley, Tun, Graham and the rest of the GOP establishment. Most importantly, Cochran, once re-elected, would never likely defy party leadership on crucial votes.
This brings me to my second question, which I can’t answer definitively but about which I can speculate. In his primary fight Cochran enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of big-name establishment figures, who have remained steadfastly in his camp. Senator McCain and several of McCain’s colleagues went down to Mississippi to campaign for their buddy. McCain not only toured Mississippi singing the praises of Cochran but went back to Washington praising the way his friend was reaching out to blacks. We may be justified in asking how much McCain and his fellow-campaigners knew about the manner in which the Mississippi senator was reaching out to minorities, or exactly what he promised to do as a future ally of President Obama.
Since the 2004 presidential election, the GOP and its media advocates have claimed to hold the moral high-ground in their battle against the Blue Team. What happened last week and the involvement of high ranking Republicans in a corrupt process in Mississippi should make us think twice the next time McCain and his Republican colleagues in the Senate strike righteous poses. In a joking moment, I offered to write on the primary for a neoconservative website. Predictably enough, I was immediately turned down. The editors had no interest in dwelling on GOP disputes, at least not with me as a commentator and not in a dispute in which their guy is bound to look bad.