On Tuesday June 24, 2014, Thad Cochran edged past TEA Party backed challenger Chris McDaniel in Mississippi’s Republican Primary run-off election. Since this comes on the heels of Eric Cantor’s loss in Virginia and McDaniel was highly favored to be the winner there are questions about the tactics used by the incumbent Senator to rally Democrats, especially black Democrats to the polls during a Republican primary. Mississippi has open primaries which allow voters to vote on either ticket so long as they intend to support that candidate in the general election. This can be dubious at best. Do those Democrats that crossed over in the primary really intend on voting for Cochran? I am sure the Democrat strategists are banking on those Democrats to support their own party in November.
According to multiple sources, the Cochran campaign had robo-calls, flyers, and even preachers telling Democrat voters that McDaniel wanted to end food stamps and accused him of being a racist. While dirty tricks and fabrications are nothing new in politics, for one candidate to use such tactics to coddle votes from the opposing party can backfire in big ways. The first most obvious way would be that a legal challenge could cause the votes of non-Republican voters to be discounted and therefore render McDaniel the winner. This could happen if there is reasonable proof that those Democrats either voted in the original primary a on the Democrat ticket or if it can be established that those voters will not support Cochran in the general election. If the results stand and Cochran is on the ballot then if those Democrats do not vote for him in November and the Republicans that supported McDaniel sit out then Cochran will not only lose his seat but the GOP will not take the Senate.
The Adviser to Mr. Cochran should have told him not to court Democrats because if you win, you will alienate a large block of Republican voters and give ammunition to the Democrat to paint you as untrustworthy and obsessed with political power. Run on your own merits and if you lose, do it gracefully. Unfortunately, the Senator did not heed this advise, or perhaps, never had an adviser say it. Now the real question that is left for Mississippians, do they really want a man who put himself and power above the will of the Republican voters to represent them in Washington?