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Cochran Wins, Tea Party Loses In Mississippi

Memo Pad Politics

Cochran Wins, Tea Party Loses In Mississippi


by David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Senator Thad Cochran won the Mississippi Republican Senate nomination Tuesday, edging upstart challenger Chris McDaniel and the Tea Party movement.

The runoff election victory by the savvy Washington insider was a rebuff to the Tea Party and like-minded conservative groups that passionately rallied around McDaniel. His defeat was a bitter blow to a conservative insurgency that began 2014 with enormous ambitions but found itself losing almost weekly.

Those groups had vowed to topple the party’s Washington establishment by defeating Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Cochran and others. Instead, they saw most of their challengers overwhelmed by the Republican mainstream, as the party’s business allies and longtime strategists fashioned successful efforts for long-established incumbents.

Cochran followed that script. He had the backing of most of Mississippi’s Republican hierarchy, as well as strong financial support from business interests. He touted his ability to win much-needed dollars for his impoverished state, and got local officials’ backing all over Mississippi.

And he got an apparent boost from Democrats and independents — notably black voters — who were eligible to participate. Non-Republicans who did not vote in the June 3 primary were eligible to vote Tuesday.

Cochran, speaking to supporters in Jackson Tuesday evening, said his win demonstrated a “consensus for more and better jobs for Mississippi workers (and) a military force and the capacity to defend the security interests of the United States of America. Those were our principles.”

“They called me every name in the book,” McDaniel said in his concession. “But it’s OK . . I’m still standing.” He vowed to “stand for conservative principles, even in the face of those who may ostracize us.”

McDaniel had fought back in the campaign with a pledge to fight to reduce the federal debt and get the government out of people’s lives. His rallies were full of energy and he attracted a host of conservative stars and volunteers.

But he couldn’t overcome Cochran, a familiar, comforting presence to many in a state where change comes slowly.

Cochran, 76, was seeking nomination to seek a seventh term and a return to Washington as one of its more experienced power brokers. He preached inclusiveness and compromise.

McDaniel, 41, is one of the Republicans’ new breed, an outspoken conservative with backing from the Tea Party and other outside conservative groups. He worked to rally Republicans, urging them to stick to conservative principles.

McDaniel barely finished ahead of Cochran in the June 3 primary, but was just short of a majority and forced into the two-man runoff. Cochran has since waged a more energetic campaign, urging Democrats and independents to stop McDaniel and his staunch conservative allies.

Cochran was backed by an outpouring from the establishment, with financial and advertising support from a who’s who of official Washington including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of Senate Republicans.

“The U.S. Chamber was actively involved in the Mississippi Senate primary and runoff because Thad Cochran is a proven leader who gets results for Mississippi,” said Rob Engstrom, National Political Director of the Chamber in a statement. “We were proud to stand with Sen. Cochran in his race and congratulate him on his victory.”

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), chairman of the Senatorial Committee, praised Cochran’s “hard-fought and well-deserved victory.”

Cochran traveled the state with a coterie of local celebrities. He campaigned with Gov. Phil Bryant and Senator John McCain of Arizona. Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, a Gulfport, Miss., native, appeared in Cochran’s ads.

McDaniel’s outside support and money came from a roster of conservative groups trying to upend the party hierarchy, including the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, Club for Growth Action and FreedomWorks for America.

The Tea Party Express rolled through Mississippi on a bus tour over the weekend. Sarah Palin and libertarian stalwart Ron Paul campaigned for McDaniel.

After getting outhustled in the first round, Cochran showed more fight in the runoff.

On Tuesday, Cochran made an early morning stop at McElroy’s on the Bayou Coffee Shop in Ocean Springs, a visit to his Rankin County headquarters to fire up workers, lunch at Mama Hamil’s restaurant in Madison, and a stop at his Madison headquarters.

He made a subtle pitch for Democrats and independents, many of whom could qualify to vote Tuesday. One Cochran ad started with him greeting black voters.

McDaniel’s events were a stark contrast. He speaks energetically, invokes the legacy of President Ronald Reagan, takes lots of questions and banters with the media.

In Madison last week, 2012 Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum led a rally of about 300 people. “He’s not for turning over more power and control to Washington, D.C.,” Santorum said of McDaniel.

The challenger routinely protested Cochran’s ties to Washington and the party establishment.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s organization supported Cochran, warning that a McDaniel win would mean much-needed federal money would dry up.

Cochran pushed that theme hard. Every day featured a visit to a defense contractor or to a city whose infrastructure had been rebuilt since Hurricane Katrina nine years ago. McDaniel countered that he’d advocate for Mississippi, but that perhaps some spending should be curtailed in order to get the federal debt down.

AFP Photo/Jonathan Ernst



  1. FireBaron June 25, 2014

    Let’s see. If I were a black voter in Mississippi, and had the opportunity to vote in the Republican Primary, who would I have cast my ballot for? The guy with a history of “bringing home the bacon” or the guy who’s financial contributors were associated with White Supremacist movements, including the Klan? Hmmm. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

    1. flyinjs June 25, 2014

      FB I agree with your theory, but I would rather hope that everyone who voted in MS “thought” it through

  2. Eleanore Whitaker June 25, 2014

    Actually, MS is one of the top 10 red states who get more than they pay in federal taxes. Thus, MS isn’t going to chance voting for Tea Party Koch shills whose only agenda is to cut funding to the marrow and to hand all of the “savings” over to Koch Industries and their capitalist cronies.

    Smart Mississippians aren’t going to jeopardize the watershed of federal tax subsidies and cuts to their businesses. The Tea Party is what it has always been…a flash in the Koch frying pan.

    1. Sand_Cat June 25, 2014

      There are smart Mississippians?

  3. paulyz June 25, 2014

    The Left labels this a “crushing defeat”. Cochran won by less than 2 percentage points. There was heavy turn-out from Democrats.

    Since the Left constantly cries about money influencing elections, Cochran spent $12 Million and needed the votes of Democrats & Independents whom will not be on his side. Also, Cochran is a 7 term “entrenched” politician.

    This shows that the Left would rather see career politicians that are out of touch with the average voter and like the status quo and growth of the Federal Government. McDaniel is for cutting the serious debt and the control of the government over all of our lives. That is something we should be supporting. This is the change we need.

    With these career politicians the spending & debt will grow until it is unsustainable and we ALL will suffer the consequences. Eventually we won’t be able to maintain just the necessary functions of the Fed. Gov. Eventually the interest on the National Debt will consume all the revenue, leaving nothing left for S.S., Medicare, and National Defense.
    Hardly a victory for the average American.

    1. Bren Frowick June 25, 2014

      Under Obama, the growth in spending has been at the slowest pace in decades, while the deficits run up by Republican incompetence under Bush have been slashed in half. The Tea Party nuts are simply too ignorant of reality to be allowed into positions of power, where their fevered imaginations have somehow convinced themselves that the debt must be reduced NOW! NOW! NOW! regardless of the consequences, rather than in a responsible way. You don’t quit paying for food, rent, utilities and clothing just because your credit card debt is high.

      1. paulyz June 25, 2014

        WHAT??? Have you been living under a rock or just listening to 85% opinionated MSNBC? Still blaming Bush when EVERYBODY (except you) knows that Obama has increased the National Debt more than all previous President’s combined. People like you actually vote?

        1. Mark Forsyth June 25, 2014

          The real scare is that people like you vote.

          1. paulyz June 25, 2014

            Wow, Intelligent reply! Please become informed before you vote, people like you harm all the rest of us.

          2. Mark Forsyth June 25, 2014

            Your presence on the Memo is harmful.You wouldn’t know intelligence if it bit you in the ass.

          3. charleo1 June 25, 2014

            No, he could provide many parents of 4 year olds with
            a teachable moment.

          4. Mark Forsyth June 25, 2014

            True enough.It is said that even the worst person is not entirely worthless as they can always serve as a bad example.

          5. RobertCHastings June 25, 2014

            Even used toilet paper serves a function.

          6. edwardw69 June 25, 2014

            Speaking of voting, I see that they finally uncovered some voter fraud. In Wisconsin. Did you see the news? (Heh, heh.)

          7. lugnut June 25, 2014

            Yep, and the fraudsters were REPUBLICANS again. WHO WOODA GUEST!

        2. jointerjohn June 25, 2014

          Dominick provided you the actual figures pauly. Here’s the thing you need to get used to, just because you don’t like the truth doesn’t make it false. The truth does not rely on philosophy to exist. Clearly you do.

        3. lugnut June 25, 2014

          Bush left out the cost of two wars and his pharma law out of the debt. When Obama came in and put the cost towards the debt where it belonged, rightwingers said, “look how much Obama is spending”. Obama has spent less towards the debt then most other presidents. The debt rose because of the INTEREST paid on the outrageous spending by Bush and the continued cost of two wars Bush started.. Also the fact Bush cut taxes for the rich in time of two wars, something so stupid no other president has done EVER!!!

          1. RobertCHastings June 25, 2014

            Don’t forget that the four most expensive items during the Bush administration (the two wars AND the pharma law and “No Child Left Behind) were NOT funded with taxes, but pure public debt. One of the first things Bush did was lower the tax rates on the wealthy, and followed that up with costly programs that were NOT funded through taxation, but the creation of public debt, which, coincidentally, was gobbled up by the wealthy and China. The folks who MADE money off the crash of 2007-2008 were the ones who caused it.

        4. highpckts June 25, 2014

          And you vote??? God!!

        5. charleo1 June 25, 2014

          Yesterday I heard a pundit on the supposedly, incredibly Liberal, MSNBC make the statement, “There’s no doubt the T-Party has taken control of the Republican establishment.” Now, this totally in the tank MS Liberal says, very authoritatively too! “Now the Republicans much teach them how to govern.” Really this is the Liberal press claiming the T-Party ignoramuses are first willing to listen to the establishment Republicans. And more incredibly, that they could be, “taught to lead.” Lead who?

          1. RobertCHastings June 25, 2014

            Who are you quoting from? Where are you getting your ideas? MANY posters on this blog have laid to rest the myth about the “liberal press”. Were there actually a “liberal press”, the public would be much more informed than it apparently is.

          2. charleo1 June 25, 2014

            I didn’t get the guy’s name. He was on MSNBC.
            It is fact a large segment of those giving credence
            to Right Wing positions, believe the press is bias in
            favor of the Left. So irrespective of how the idea has
            been put to rest here,and other places, and I agree with that, by the way. But, there are millions that refuse to believe the regular news outlets are not covering for Obama on the various hyped up investigations. That we are the ones not being given the facts, or brainwashed, or whatever. My idea is,
            and I just keep beating this drum, that I have noticed a definite Right shift in NBC, and affiliated MSNBC, since their purchase by Comcast. Owned by a family that makes the Koch Bros. seem liberal. The other day I heard David Gregory, and panel intimating that the Neo Cons being discredited by the new more Conservative T-Party, were beginning to find Hillary Clinton, more in line with their militaristic leanings. Yes, that’s right. Now Meet the Press is suggesting that maybe Hillary may be more in tune with Dick Cheney! So, see what I’m talking about? The Right still believes the main press is liberal. So, how much more room does that create on the Right for Fox & Company?

        6. elw June 25, 2014

          Paul who is everybody???? It should be clear to you by reading this blog and McDaniels loss – that clearly “everybody” does know or believe your assessment of who is responsible for the National Debt. You can say what you want, but making up your own facts is rather silly when most people will not believe you.

        7. Bren Frowick June 25, 2014

          You clearly live in a Faux-news bubble to believe that drivel. Bush added trillions to the debt and sent the deficits into outer space. Those deficits are what matters, as they have to shrink before they can disappear and become surplus, which is the ONLY way to lower the debt. Obama has cut deficits in half since the Bush disaster, and is on track to see them shrink further, unless the Teabagger idiots succeed in blowing up the economy (again) by refusing to raise the debt limit or (again) shutting down the government, as they insist they will do.

        8. Douglas Johnson July 15, 2014

          Better do some more research on that National debt thingy.

      2. Dominick Vila June 25, 2014

        In addition to reducing the size of the Federal Govt, Obama also reduced the budget deficits and our national debt when measured by percentile:
        Reagan – 189%
        Bush I – 89%
        Bush II – 51.6%
        Carter – 42.6%

        Clinton – 36%
        Obama – 34%

        1. RobertCHastings June 25, 2014

          I hate to belabor the obvious, but since Ford left the White House, the big spenders have been REPUBLICANS. Well, really, it has been much longer than that.

    2. TZToronto June 25, 2014

      The far right want to slash federal spending–except for those things they want the feds to keep their hands off of–like Social Security and Medicare. In other words, they’re for anything that benefits themselves, and they’re willing to throw everything else (and everyone else) under the bus of tax cuts. Now, imagine what we’d hear from the far right in MS if federal money stopped flowing there.

      1. paulyz June 25, 2014

        I believe it was Obama & the Democrats that stole $716 BILLION from Medicare and raised taxes another $500 BILLION to ram through Obamacare. We ALL will be thrown under the bus when there isn’t any money to maintain our basic social services.

        1. lugnut June 25, 2014

          Obama stole nothing from medicare. The 716 BILLION was cut from fraud and managerial incompetence. Medicare beneficiaries didn’t see a penny cut in benefits. In fact, they got more benefits when the medication gap was closed.

        2. lugnut June 25, 2014

          Obamacare wasn’t rammed through. Democrats and republicans went back and fought over the ACA bill for 9 months before it passed. That means, they knew what was in it. Why are rightwingers so easily manipulated?

          1. Ryu June 25, 2014

            because they are selectively mentally challenged.

          2. Midway54 June 25, 2014

            The scoundrels at Fox “News” can answer your question. They successfully rely on their vacuous audience of dupes and rubes day and night, mainly centered in Dupedom South, a region of voters who enthusiastically cheer and vote against their own interests. The plutocrats love ’em.

          3. Mark Forsyth June 25, 2014

            Ah,The wonders of fundamentalism,the main ingredient for the royal scam.I hear the sales of bandaides are booming down there.Must be a lot of sore knuckles.

        3. TZToronto June 25, 2014

          lugnut’s got it right. Interesting that the $716 billion is the same amount Paul Ryan waanted to cut from Medicare–except he’d probably have cut that amount from benefits, not fraud and incompetence.

        4. charleo1 June 25, 2014

          I don’t think you’re on Medicare, or care a wit about it
          at this time. Otherwise you would have looked that debunked lie up, and debunked it yourself. And why are you willing to lie down, and let yourself be thrown under the bus? I think you need to ask yourself that
          question. Do you believe the rich are always right? That when they say we’re all out of money for healthcare, and SS for paultz, it’s your duty to just crawl off somewhere, and die? Brainwashed much?

    3. bobnstuff June 25, 2014

      The good people of Mississippi have spoken. get over it. Cochran is doing his job for the people who elected him. The growth of the fed has slowed. If we stop going to wars we don’t belong in and stop paying for arms the world doesn’t need. Just because Cochran has been severing for terms doesn’t make him out of touch.

    4. charleo1 June 25, 2014

      Well don’t go all liberal on us now! When did SS & Medicare become important programs, and not Socialism run amuck, to T-Party assholes? Better the KKK, and Neo-Confederate Nazis than an evil gov, stealing money from hard working White folk, to fund social welfare. Now that’s how it goes. What are you drunk today? Or get
      laid last night?

    5. elw June 25, 2014

      “This shows that the Left would rather see career politicians that are out of touch with the average voter and like the status quo and growth of the Federal Government. ”
      No, that is not what Cochran’s win shows, It show of the two evils the left much prefers Cochran’s form of conservatism over McDaniel’s. Since Cochran won I would say it is McDaniel and his followers who are out of touch with the average voter. Not that I would expect you or them to recognize that, it would take too much personal examination and the maturity to know when you are wrong.

  4. FT66 June 25, 2014

    Congratulations Sen. Thad Cochran. For the Dems, the plan is working. Keep focused and engaged till November. The effort made is quite promising.

  5. Dominick Vila June 25, 2014

    The results of yesterday’s primaries suggest that both left and right wing voters favor incumbency and support what their elected officials are doing. With the exception of states where Tea Party candidates have succeeded in their quest, little has changed in our political landscape.
    As for Cochran, I guess Mississippians know who has been bringing home the bacon…

    1. Allan Richardson June 26, 2014

      This explains why the Solid South was Democratic for as long as it was (besides hating Lincoln, Sherman, Grant, et al), even though the party leadership in non-Dixie cities became a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-religious party: the Southern states were not only wrecked by the Civil War, they had developed very little industry before it. The plantation economy needed assistance from the Feds, even though they hated it, from the 1860s on. And the Democratic party needed votes in Congress and the Electoral College badly enough to let the old time power structure call itself Democratic in the South, even though no one in Chicago or New York would voice such prejudices and call himself a Democrat.

      By the 1960s, the larger cities in the South had diversified their economies enough not to need the “welfare” from the North, and when the Democratic party got serious about racial justice, they decided Lincoln wasn’t so bad after all. Besides, the Republicans were like them in preferring cultural and religious homogeneity, wanting to criminalize “deviant” lifestyles (like the hippies) and “un-American” opinions (like peace in Vietnam, which they equated with Communism), had a neutral stance on race (once Lincoln had technically freed the slaves, Republicans didn’t care what industrialization and economic servitude did to them), and at least until the Tea Party arose, were still willing to spend federal money to help “bidness” prosper in the South (a large part of that in defense spending) for the sake of the WHITE working class voters. So the Dixiecrats became Republicans. But SOME people in the South still need economic assistance, and the white voters don’t realize that includes THEM, because they have been taught over the years that only those “nasty” racial minority types benefit from federal money.

      If this causes a SCHISM on the order of the Kirk of Scotland breaking away from the Church of England and becoming Calvinist, and the Tea Party becomes a separate entity, this could be a good thing for the Democrats.

  6. Mark Forsyth June 25, 2014

    Are we beginning to see the true sentiments of reality connected voters for moderate middle ground ideas and policies,rather than the radical extremism of the far right or the far left? Certainly individuals will come down hard on specific issues,but the average American voter is much more moderate in their overall perspective of things than he or she is given credit for.
    Extremists are known for seeing things in black or white.Realists know that most things are various shades of grey.

  7. howa4x June 25, 2014

    So tweedle dee and tweedle dumb had a run off. Cochran will vote a staunch conservative line in the Senate, and say no to Obama in a southern genteel way, where McDaniel would yell epithets at the president. The reality is that neither can cross the ideological divide that separates facts on the ground from fiction. Mississippi has some of the lowest test scores I the country, and some of the worst health outcomes, yet both were against core standards and both are against Medicaid expansion. Hospitals are closing in the state and religious charter schools are funded better than public ones. This is why nothing will really change there no matter which republican is elected.

  8. stcroixcarp June 25, 2014

    This one must have been a hard decision for Mississippi’s democrats. Not much of a choice like if you’re up to your neck in snot and someone throws a bucket of poop at your head. Do you duck? It is hard to determine which candidate is the poop and which is the snot.

    1. Mark Forsyth June 25, 2014

      You may think it’s poop but itsnot.Please excuse the lame humor, I couldn’t resist.

  9. Linda Turner June 25, 2014

    But I hear there’s a part of Mississippi voting laws that say you cannot cross party lines for a primary if you don’t intend to vote for your “new” party in the general election. Of course, “intent” is hard to prove in this case if you don’t yet know who has won the Democratic Primary. Was there one? And who won it?

  10. Pamby50 June 25, 2014

    I live in Memphis and we get all the political ads from Arkansas, MS & TN. Right now the tea party is apoplectic because Cochran had the nerve to ask African-American voters to vote for him. I thought that was the republican party’s agenda, to be more inclusive. Not. What a joke.

    1. edwardw69 June 25, 2014

      I’ll bet a dollar that some gays voted for him, too. That ought to get some mouths to frothing.

  11. jnsgraphic June 25, 2014

    The GOP once knew how to govern and was a party of principles… since their alignment with the Tea Party they have become gun happy, armed and ready to fire; an anti-Unites States party willing to dismantle our economy and democracy at any costs. The party of Lincoln they are no more, the Group Of Plutocratic Terrorists are full of bigotry, hatred and discrimination… they’re the new Ku Koch Klan without the hoods. Until the GOPT are all voted OUT they will continue to in support of the rich and their pro-corporate agenda over the publics best interest. Like McDaniel, they are a bunch of greedy losers who are only looking out for their donors and their own re-election, and all deserve to get their asses handed to them by voters.

  12. Bob Williams June 25, 2014

    Cochran won by about one percentage point, and that was after he got Democrats, who typically have their face in the trough, vote for him in the Republican primary. This is not what you would call a resounding defeat for the Tea Party. Quite the opposite, I would say.

  13. charles king June 25, 2014

    Where? is your Democracy,People, do not let MONIES destroy your way of thinking, just use some (Critical Thinking) with your VOTE and YOU the voter can solve the problems that the country is having. We have Capitalistic Pigs riding on the coat of our Democracy, the Plutocracts are buying up the People’s Assets and turn around and privatize the People’s Assets and call it under Manageent BY, What? kind of S*** is that. Who? allows this to happen to its citizens. Why? and How? do these (Commissioniers) get to call Justice on the Peoples Rights. You, the People know Who? is causing all of this division in our Democracy so Vote These A**H**** OUT, use your voting power cause the VOTE is still Supreme. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. MR. C. E. KING

  14. tdm3624 June 27, 2014

    Conservatives voting for the guy that will increase their State’s dependence on the Federal Government….so awesome.

  15. Douglas Johnson July 15, 2014

    I was a democrat for years and joined the republican party to vote for Thad, who was my pledge master in college and whom I knew to be a good and deserving candidate. I was always pleased with his balanced service. Then I served in the Marines for ten years, left Mississippi, and ended up in Florida, where republicans (like Rick Scott) were too corrupt for me to associate with. I changed parties again. I am truly thankful to see my fellow democrats in Mississippi supporting a balanced Republican like Thad rather than a bigoted nut job like McDaniel. Uh-Rah!


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