The unsuccessful challenger to Sen. W. Thad Cochran in the June 24 GOP primary called on Mississippi Republican Chairman Joseph D. Nosef III to direct circuit clerks to cooperate with his campaign volunteer seeking election data.
State Sen. Christopher B. McDaniel, who beat Cochran in the June 3 primary, but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote, triggering the runoff, is incensed the 42-year incumbent recruited Democrats, specifically from black communities, to beat him.
In his non-concession speech, McDaniel said to supporters: “There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual, about a Republican primary that is decided by liberal Democrats.”
Of 376,323 votes cast, Cochran bested McDaniel 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent by 6,693 votes. The turnout in the runoff was 67,629 higher than in the first contest, when McDaniel beat Cochran by 1,386 votes. A third candidate, Thomas L. Carey collected 1.5 percent of the vote June 3, and perhaps Cochran should send him a kind note.
The McDaniel campaign is now comparing voter rolls from the June 3 Democratic Primary, checking to see if Democratic voters June 3 took Republican ballots June 24. Mississippi law forbids voters from voting in the primary for a candidate they do not intent to support in general.
“I’m calling on the Mississippi GOP Chairman Joe Nosef to instruct circuit clerks to hand over the poll books for the June 3 Democratic primary election and the June 24 Republican primary runoff election to our agents promptly upon request,” McDaniel said. “Circuit clerks should be instructed to be as helpful as possible to our volunteers as they check the poll books.”
The state senator said: “We want to be clear: this is being done to maintain the integrity of the election process and that a fair and honest election was held on behalf of all Mississippians.”
All that said, the idea that Nosef would cooperate with the McDaniel is absurd.
Nosef is a functionary of the Mississippi Republican establishment, who worked as a campaign manager for former governor Haley Barbour, the chief of staff for then-lieutenant governor D. Phillip Bryant and later the senior man in Bryant’s successful campaign for governor.
In early April, it was Nosef, who told NBC News McDaniel that as the party chairman, he was eager for McDaniel to explain how he could not possibly be a racist after he was linked to rally, where a pro-Confederate merchandise vendor had a booth.
It was a classic nudge-nudge-wink-wink stunt—so, classic that McDaniel supporters and national conservatives were calling for Nosef to resign.
The buzz last year on Capitol Hill was that Cochran was returning to his plough. But, when McDaniel stepped forward, the GOP leadership put the touch on the incumbent to answer the bell one more time.
Knowing McDaniel was the next man up, Nosef said he was thrilled Cochran was running again.
“For years Senator Cochran has been a dedicated public servant and fine conservative leader for the Republican Party, Mississippi, and the country,” he said.
“We thank him for his invaluable service and congratulate him on seeking re-election. We look forward to working tirelessly to ensure Mississippi does its part to keep this seat in Republican hands and help Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate in 2014,” he said.
If the Republicans do capture the Senate in November, Cochran is slated to be the next chairman of the upper chamber’s Appropriations Committee. The idea that now, after Cochran won the runoff, the Mississippi GOP chairman is going to lift a finger to unseat him is pure fantasy.
What McDaniel should be doing right now is calling off the dogs and endorsing Cochran: “My old friend Thad mentored my generation of Republicans and I am thrilled to be at his side as he campaigns for reelection.”
But, that might be a fantasy, too. Not because McDaniel lacks a generous heart, which he does have.
Rather, given the glidepath he is now on, it is doubtful whether Cochran will ever step foot in the Magnolia State again.