Thad Cochran – one of the best to ever serve Mississippi
For a man who was elected to the U.S.House of Representatives in 1972 and the U.S. Senate in 1978. Sen. Thad Cochran left quietly when he retired earlier this month. Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed by Gov. Bryant to serve until the November 2018 special election. Headlines have been dominated by Cochran’s health, who Bryant would appoint to take Cochran’s place, what state Sen. Chris McDaniel would do, and the possible candidates in the special election. During almost 50 years of writing about Mississippi politics, I have met the good, the bad, and the ugly of the many politicians who have held or sought office in our state. There is no question Cochran has been and always will be one of my favorites.
I first met Cochran in 1972 when he, Trent Lott, and a college professor named Carl Butler were running for U.S. House seats and I was the state campaign manager for the very longshot, even hopeless campaign of Gil Carmichael who was opposing powerful Democrat James O. “Big Jim” Eastland. Carmichael was in the senate race because James Meredith was running as a Republican and Clarke Reed and other state leaders were horrified Meredith might be the GOP nominee for the senate in November. The Meridian car dealer was put in the primary to defeat Meredith. One of the big events of the campaign was when then Vice President Spiro Agnew was coming to Mississippi to endorse the four congressional candidates. At the time, Agnew was even considerably more popular in Mississippi than President Richard Nixon. This was, of course, before
When Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Cindy Hyde-Smith to the U.S. Senate to fill the remaining term of Sen. Thad Cochran until this November’s special election, I received a call from a politically savvy friend. My friend held Hyde-Smith in high regard but was worried Josh Gregory and his partner’s firm, Frontier Strategies, were signed up her to direct her campaign. Frontier also directed Cochran’s 2014 campaign when Cochran narrowly defeated Republican primary challenger Chris McDaniel of Jones County. At one time, Gregory was regarded as sort of a boy wonder of political operatives in Mississippi. He did campaign work for former Gov. Haley Barbour and drove the political train that elected Bryant as lieutenant governor and then to two terms as governor. Gregory reportedly has also signed on to direct Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s 2019 race to succeed Tate Reeves as lieutenant governor. Gregory’s reputation took a hit this week when Hyde-Smith sent out a campaign fundraising letter saying she had the support of President Trump and Vice President Pence. She might and probably will eventually receive the endorsement of Trump, but when the letter was sent out, she had not.
On Tuesday I received two electronic versions of Hyde-Smith’s letter. It wasn’t much later in the day that Geoff Pender, political editor for The Jackson Clarion-Ledger wrote that while Hyde-Smith claimed she was supported by Trump, to date Trump and Pence had not endorsed her candidacy. Of course, Gregory can share the blame for this campaign foul-up with others. In Pender’s story, Jordan Russell, Hyde-Smith’s campaign manager, said the letter was a “drafting error” generated by an outside vendor hired by the campaign. What a pathetic response. I don’t care what outside vendor drafted the letter. As campaign
In an April 1 online appeal for campaign contributions, Chris McDaniel took several shots at recently appointed U.S. Sen. Cindy-Hyde Smith for the sin of once being a Democrat. Perhaps we should not forget President Ronald Reagan was a fellow sinner and a registered member of the Democrat Party until 1962, just two years before Barry Goldwater was the Republican candidate for president. As Reagan was an advocate of FDR’s New Deal, I suspect Reagan was more to the left than Cindy Hype-Smith while she was a Democrat in the state senate. Reagan supported Goldwater in 1964 and during that campaign Reagan became the leading national spokesman for conservatives. Just two years later former Democrat Reagan had the audacity to run for governor of California as a Republican and defeated liberal incumbent Democrat Pat Brown, Sr. by almost a million votes. And let’s not forget Ronald Reagan was also a union leader in the early days of his political career. McDaniel’s appeal for campaign contributions continued to hammer Hyde-Smith as being “across the aisle” in the legislature with the “liberal left–actively fighting against us.” It is so nice McDaniel can represent himself as the only true and pure conservative in Mississippi politics. McDaniel is so holier than thou he probably thinks Reagan, Goldwater and William F. Buckley, Jr. were not true conservatives and were just “establishment” Republicans who could not match his own conservative purity. Nothing changes my view of McDaniel. If elected next November, he will be ineffective in the U.S. Senate and even worse, will prove to be an embarrassment to Mississippi.
National Review, founded by William F. Buckley, Jr. calls Alabama’s Roy Moore a “deeply flawed” candidate; Chris McDaniel would be a deeper “deeply flawed” candidate
The seemingly endless name game about who will replace Sen. Thad Cochran until this November’s special election finally ended when Gov. Phil Bryant announced last week he will appoint Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (CHS) when Cochran steps down in April. I think Hyde-Smith is a good appointment. She is a good person, will be a tough campaigner, and has served Mississippi well as a state senator and Ag Commissioner. Also give Gov. Bryant credit for not taking any guff from state Sen. Chris McDaniel and his supporters who were demanding Bryant appoint McDaniel instead of Hyde-Smith or any of the other Republicans who were mentioned as prospects. REPUBLICAN PURITY – For years the Mississippi Republican Party has encouraged and welcomed legislators and other local officials if they switch political parties. However, some Republicans are grumbling because CHS was first elected as a Democrat to the state senate in 2000 and did not switch until the last two years for her term before she ran for commissioner of agriculture in 2011. Some of those same leaders in the state GOP didn’t bat an eye when incumbent lieutenant governor Amy Tuck, a lifelong Democrat, switched to the GOP in 2002. Prior to serving as lieutenant governor, like CHS, Tuck also was a Democrat state senator. After wining her race for lieutenant governor as a Democrat in 1999, three years later she became a Republican. In 2003 she ran for re-election under the GOP banner. POLLING – Some Republicans hit the panic button when national polling showed only Gov. Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves or Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann could defeat McDaniel in a special election. Bryant stuck to his plans not to run despite pleas from President Trump and other national Republicans. Reeves also said no. Despite briefly reconsidering, Reeves eventually came back to his original position of not to run. Despite his popularity, in the party Hosemann will turn 71 in June. Because seniority has always meant so much for a small state like Mississippi, that was an obvious strike against Hosemann. The same polling showed McDaniel beating CHS, but at this time polling does not mean much for an election that won’t take place until next November. It is a very small snapshot of the current political landscape which is eight months from the election.
Andy Taggart can’t win, but he could sure help McDaniel and Espy
Then we also had noise coming from Andy Taggart, former chief of staff to the late Gov.
Or anybody else if McDaniel instead runs in the special election to replace Sen. Thad Cochran
As Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker faces re-election in 2018, you may be an enthusiastic supporter of Wicker, you may lean towards voting for Wicker or you could even be undecided or indifferent about Wicker. Since state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced he will run against Wicker this year, everyone should move to the column of being a strong supporter of Wicker. Of course, everyone remembers McDaniel’s very nasty and classless campaign against Sen. Thad Cochran in the 2014 Republican primary. A week or so before McDaniel announced he will oppose Wicker, McDaniel told an Associated Press reporter he would run against Wicker, run for lieutenant governor, or be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2020. In that story McDaniel said before he decided which political course he would take, he would go to a “dark place” and pray.
Praying aside, McDaniel resides in a dark place
I would suggest McDaniel permanently resides in a “dark place.” In a March 1 email to raise funds for his campaign, he noted his race against Cochran four years ago and said, “Back in 2014, I challenged another Republican swamp creature here in Mississippi: Sen. Thad Cochran.” When Cochran announced on Monday, March 5, that he will resign his seat on April 1, the same Chris McDaniel said, “I wish Sen. Cochran nothing but the best in his retirement and thank him for his service to Mississippi.”
The real swamp creature is Chris McDaniel
After McDaniel called Cochran a “swamp creature”, I was not surprised when one of the state’s prominent Republicans told me the “real swamp creature is Chris.” And now, we will wait to see if McDaniel decides to drop out as an opponent to Wicker to instead run in next November’s special election to fill out the final two years of Cochran’s term. By comparison with defeated Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore in Alabama, McDaniel makes the very controversial Moore look like a statesman. Mississippi has enough problems without the embarrassment it would be if McDaniel is elected to the U.S. Senate.
NY Times reports Hillary Clinton refused to fire Mississippian accused of sexual harassment
The national sexual harassment epidemic continues. Allegations have come out on an almost daily basis involving prominent Hollywood personalities, other entertainers, well known politicians, and leading media figures. One of the latest is liberal Democrat Burns Strider of Mississippi. Strider once served as chief of staff to former congressman Ronnie Shows. On January 26, The New York Times broke the story that during Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, Strider was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young staff member. Despite Clinton’s campaign manager wanting to fire Strider, Clinton refused. Eight years later, Strider was hired to work for a group supporting Clinton’s 2016 campaign. After what the NYT termed “workplace issues”, including allegations Strider again sexually harassed a young female staff member, the organization, unlike Clinton, fired Strider. You’ve got to give the liberal NYT credit. When it comes to sexual harassment, rightfully so, the newspaper does not give any slack to Democrats as well as Republicans. Now, the story involving Strider has received a lot of play by the national press, not because it’s Strider, but because the story involved Clinton, an enabler of her own husband Bill’s own sexual escapades. It should also be noted minutes before President Trump’s recent State of the Union address, Clinton issued a lengthy statement
Almost all Mississippians were shocked, or at least surprised, when U. S. Rep. Gregg Harper, first elected to the House in 2008, announced he will not run for re-election this year. Mississippi has just four members of its U.S. House of Representative delegation, and contests for an open seat are rare. Immediately after Harper’s announcement, phone lines in the state were jumping when would-be candidates started testing the waters for support and if they could potentially raise the necessary campaign money necessary to seriously compete. Harper raised about $1.2 million when he first won the seat after Chip Pickering stepped down after holding the seat for 12 years following the retirement of longtime Congressman Sonny Montgomery. Montgomery represented the Third Congressional District for 30 years. Reasonable estimates to win the 2018 election to replace Harper project it will cost about $2 million for the primary and general election for a seat that should be safe for Republicans.
Potential candidate with best resume, credentials will not run
If Rhonda Keenum, wife of Mississippi State University president Dr.Mark Keenum, had decided to run, she may have been the early frontrunner to succeed Harper. Rhonda was very interested and came very close to being a candidate. Keenum would not have been a favorite because she is the wife of Dr. Keenum, MSU is located in the 3rd CD. She would have been a strong contender because of her own credentials and political experience. Rhonda was a top staffer for Sen. Roger Wicker when Wicker served in the U.S. House,
State and national Democrats encouraged by Doug Jones’ win over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama special election
One of the current political rumors making the rounds as 2017 draws to a close is Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley will enter the 2018 contest for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. If Presley gets in the race, it will not really be because he is taking on Wicker but would run in the event Wicker is upset by state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the GOP primary. It’s never been a secret Presley has bigger ambitions for higher office and would like to run for statewide office. His statewide political liabilities are pretty obvious. Presley, despite serving as one of three public service commissioners since 2008, is not well known outside of North Mississippi. It is also a very valid question if Presley, especially within Mississippi, can raise the vast amount of money needed for a statewide race. The reason for a possible candidacy is obvious besides his own ambition. Democrat Doug Jones’ victory over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama has made both national and Mississippi Democrats giddy over possible inroads into the strongly Republican south. However, it is easy to dismiss some of the Democrats’ glee of the Jones victory. The narrow win by Jones was not the result of a rapid increase in anti-Republican feelings or anti-Trump backlash in a state Trump won by 63 percent. Roy Moore lost a very narrow race to Jones because Moore was a terrible candidate. In the past I have used the word “wacko” to describe some left-wing Democrats, but the wacko description certainly fits Republican Moore to a T. If Democrats were to pick an ideal Republican candidate to oppose, in any state, Moore would be the winner in a landslide. The Democrat scenario in Mississippi is pretty obvious. McDaniel beats Wicker in the GOP primary with Presley ready for McDaniel next November – a Mississippi version of Alabama’s Jones versus Moore. If McDaniel were to upset Wicker in a primary, he almost defeated Cochran in a close and bitter primary in 2014, there’s no doubt in a contest with Presley, McDaniel would be taking shots not only from Democrats, but from the state’s left leaning press and the so-called establishment Republicans who supported Wicker. However, whatever you think of McDaniel, he’s not a Roy Moore. McDaniel’s negatives, while many, would never approach the negatives associated with Moore. The flip side is Wicker is leaving nothing to chance. He has a ton of campaign cash to spend and is making all the textbook moves needed to ward off a challenger. He has embraced President Trump and will have a first rate team as campaign consultants. On the negative side, Wicker’s strong embrace of changing the current state flag with its Confederate emblem will not be popular with a significant number of Mississippians who will vote in a Republican primary. Wicker cannot be encouraged by a recent poll that showed him with very mediocre approval ratings in the state. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could be hung around Wicker’s neck. While many state Republicans are not fans of the Steve Bannon, Tea Party and other Republicans who often seem to attack Republicans
Matt Luke is a very good choice to lead Ole Miss football program; Ross Bjork should have been fired
For many years NASCAR has had what it called its “silly season” (driver changes, team changes, crew changes). Politics can certainly have its silly season at any time. SEC football is not immune from having its own silly season of coaching changes. Former interim Ole Miss coach Matt Luke is the new head of the Rebel football program. That is a good thing and he deserves a shot. Luke played at Ole Miss as did his father and brother. He is a Rebel through and through and deserves the job. There is one report that if Luke got the job, it depended on the Rebels beating rival Mississippi State. If true, it is sad because Luke deserved the job and just one game, even against the Bulldogs, should not have been the determining factor. When Ole Miss AD Russ Bjork announced Luke was his pick, he said he had made a wide search and determined his best choice as a new head football coach was already in Oxford. Who is Bjork kidding? With all its problems with the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Ole Miss was not exactly the sexiest and most attractive football coaching job in the nation. A big problem in Oxford is too many Ole Miss fans are outraged with the NCAA penalties. They are unrepentant and think the Rebels are victims. I don’t see how Bjork should survive as AD. The NCAA mess at Ole Miss took place on his watch. Add in the existing Rebel players that are considering transferring to other schools. The parents of one player told a national reporter that when their son was being recruited, they ask disgraced and former Coach Hugh Freeze how the NCAA investigation could impact the Rebel football program, and thus, their son’s future. They were not told the truth, but even more, the parents also asked Bjork the same question. They got the same bogus answer from Bjork they got from Freeze. Ole Miss is appealing the 2018 bowl ban, but if
No, it’s just the money rush by legislators to tap lobbyists and other special interests in Jackson
While the casual observer may not be taking notice, political types in Mississippi might not be faulted if they think the next statewide and legislative elections are right around the corner. The statewide primaries and general elections are more than a year and a half away, but you would not know that if you are paying attention to the fast and furious political fundraising events that are being held in Jackson at various venues. Candidates for statewide office, incumbents and would be statewide candidates, seldom slow down in their efforts to raise money. It is a fact of political life and something any serious candidate who is not spending his own money must do. What has been amazing in recent months is the almost non-stop fundraising by incumbent state legislators. One lobbyist rolled his eyes when talking about it and another commented, “They (legislators) are wearing me out.” There are several reasons for this fast and furious fundraising. First note most of it is taking place in Jackson, not in the home districts of the legislators. Jackson is the gold mine of lobbyists and other special interests for legislative candidates. The most obvious reason for the fundraising rush, of course, is when an incumbent state legislator builds up a huge campaign war chest, it discourages possible opponents. Another obvious reason is legislators see non-stop fundraising by their legislative colleagues. The last push for campaign fundraisers comes from the hired guns, professional campaign fundraisers who usually get a healthy percentage of the money they raise for the candidate. Unlike political fundraisers for congressional candidates in Washington, D.C., there are even a couple of Mississippi lobbyists who have had no qualms raising money for both Republicans and Democrats. And there’s another perception about lobbying the U.S. Congress and the Mississippi Legislature that might surprise some people. The press and other so-called good government organizations most often paint D.C. lobbyists and the cash they dole out as soldiers of the evil empire. More often than not, political action committees and other campaign contributions flows to Senate and House members whose voting record reflects the interests of those organizations. Too often in Mississippi the reverse in true. Money usually flow to legislators and many votes on various issues is reflected in the lobbyist and special interest contributions.
Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes would be very serious primary opponent for Congressman Steven Palazzo, but ……..
An often discussed political rumor in Mississippi is that highly regarded Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes might make a primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Biloxi. Some speculate Hewes will oppose Palazzo in 2018. Others suggest Hewes