The already tawdry Mississippi GOP Senate primary fight, between Sen. W. Thad Cochran and his challenger state Sen. Christopher G. McDaniel, just got tawdrier with the bizarre chain of events that began with May 15 antics of a lone wolf political operator.
The primary is June 3.
Clayton Thomas Kelly, an independent blogger from Pearl, Mississippi, was arrested by Madison police for his entry into St. Catherine’s Village, a Madison adult care residential facility, where Cochran’s ailing wife Rose Clayton Cochran lives and taking a video of her.
The Madison police department issued a statement that said they received information about Kelly May 15 and then charged him with obtaining an image of a vulnerable person for personal gain. Kelly is being held on $100,000 bail.
The Cochran v. McDaniel battle has taken on national significance, the Tea Party-backed McDaniel is shaping up as a formidable candidate with the momentum, finances and support to take down the 76-year-old Republican stalwart, who came to Washington in 1973 as a congressman.
A December Human Events/Gravis poll of Mississippi Republicans showed the race as a dead heat, with both men polling at 40 percent and 20 percent undecided. This was not a good poll for Cochran and for many Capitol Hill conservatives, it was the first concrete sign that Cochran was in trouble.
For the struggling Cochran campaign and the state’s media that part of an interlocking directorate with the Democratic Party, Kelly’s arrest has become a lifeline—as they grasp for connections between the McDaniel campaign and Kelly.
The only problem the Cochrane campaign and the Magnolia State media has is that there is no evidence of a connection. Despite Kelly using his blog to attack Cochran and a photo of the blogger with McDaniel, there is no there, there.
Failing to make a real connection, the anti-McDaniel coalition has invented a non-connected connection by putting out the narrative that McDaniel’s campaign manager state Sen. Melanie Sojourner knew about Kelly’s antics beforehand.
Joining the coalition is the National Republican Senate Committee, whose communications director, Brad Dayspring, has been tweeting and retweeting the faux-connect as if he was Carlos Danger on a lonely night.
This is not a surprise because the Republican National Committee and its daughter committees are committed to taking conservative contributions and votes, while working all three shift to defeat conservative candidates.
For Capitol Hill conservatives, it is business-as-usual to be endure both the far-Left blogs and NRSC reading from the same script.
What are the facts?
Early May 17, as soon as the McDaniel campaign learn about the incident, it determined it was no one attached to their campaign and reached out to Cochrane.
“The McDaniel campaign found out about the break in when a local political blog posted about it at 11:40 p.m. last night,” according to a McDaniel campaign statement. “Senator McDaniel has denounced the break-in and called Senator Cochran to extend his condolences.”
The statement also made clear that there was no connection between Kelly and their campaign. “It is unconscionable for the Cochran campaign and the liberal media to use the act of a sick individual to lob despicable accusations.”
McDaniel himself said: “I’ve reached out to Senator Cochran directly to express my abhorrence for the reprehensible actions of this individual. This criminal act is deeply offensive and my team and I categorically reject such appalling behavior.”
The state senator said: “My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Cochran and his family. Politics is about the exchange of ideas and this type of action has no place in politics whatsoever and will not be tolerated.”
A McDaniel campaign worker, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Human Events that a member of Kelly’s family called the campaign office to apologize and explain that for many years Kelly has been a loose cannon.
The worker sketched out a timeline of events at the McDaniel camp as things unfolded.
Sojourner noticed Kelly’s post about the video at or around 1 a.m., local time Saturday and quickly surmised that Cochran’s wife was the target of the post, since it was well-known in political circles that the senator’s wife was in the home, the worker said.
Later Saturday morning, at or around 7:30 a.m., local time, staffers told McDaniel that there was an incident that might require him to reach out to Cochran, the worker said.
Soon afterwards, Sojourner called Kirk Sims, the Cochran campaign manager. Sims is the former chief of staff of Mississippi Gov. D. Phillip Bryant and the son-in-law of Sen. Roger F. Wicker, the state’s other GOP senator. Then, at or around 9:30 p.m., McDaniel spoke to Alexandra Jaffe, a reporter for The Hill, a mainstream newspaper covering Capitol Hill. At the time, the candidate had not yet been fully briefed, which happened roughly an hour later with a statement coming from the campaign at 10:50 a.m., local time.
It is bizarre how from this timeline, which no one disputes, anyone could come away with the conclusion that the McDaniel campaign had foreknowledge of Kelly’s actions or was coordinating with him.
A quick scan of Kelly’s blog revealed a man anxious about what he sees as political cowardice by conservative GOP senators, such as Kentucky’s Randall H. “Rand” Paul, Utah’s Michael S. Lee and Texas’ R. Edward “Ted” Cruz.
Maybe he thought McDaniel was not doing enough and he took matters into his own hands?
Given that the McDaniel campaign was confident is was heading for a win against Cochran, there is no way they would have approved such any such stunt—let alone a stunt as nonsensical as the shameful exploitation of feeble woman.