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
Mississippi Conservative Daily can match the fake news of the liberal media
President Donald Trump often complains about “fake news” and the liberal bias of the mainstream national media. I can’t argue with that. The left-wing bias of most major news organizations, print and television, is as bad if not worse than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. However, in Mississippi, and on the conservative side, we have just as much fake news and right-wing basis from an online site called Mississippi Conservative Daily (MCD). MCD bills itself as a news site for “true conservatives.” I don’t intend to let MCD define whom I would consider a true conservative. MCD is basically a flack website for state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Laurel. If you read the various stories published on Mississippi Conservative Daily, you might say it features even more “goofy” reports than fake news. The most recent that caught my eye was headlined, “Is Swamp Creature Mark Keenum Mississippi’s Next U.S. Senator?” Rather than being a “swamp creature”, Dr. Keenum is the very well-regarded president of Mississippi State University. A side headline to the Keenum story called Keenum a “pro-amnesty political operative” with another that said “More Cheap Mexican Labor.” The article even took fake news to a new level by reporting an MSU search committee is already looking for the next president of MSU. Of course, the recent political speculation about Mississippi’s next U.S. Senator is the result of extensive stories and rumors about the health of Sen. Cochran who defeated McDaniel is a very close primary in 2014. As far as Keenum is concerned, he has very impressive credentials even before he became president of MSU. He served as Cochran’s chief of staff and Under Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush. I don’t know if Sen. Cochran will resign before his current term ends. I do know Mark Keenum has the resume and more importantly, the good character, to represent Mississippi and to be a fine U.S. Senator. This has nothing to do with the prospect of Keenum being appointed or if he were, whether or not he would be a strong candidate in the special election that would be called. It is also worth noting MCD had another post urging its readers to call Gov. Phil Bryant and urge Bryant to appoint McDaniel if Cochran steps down. Since Bryant is termed limited, Bryant seems intent on leaving a positive legacy for his eight years as governor. Appointing McDaniel to anything would only tarnish any legacy Bryant would like to leave. Cochran hasn’t stepped down and apparently has no immediate intention of doing so. The best thing for Mississippi is for Sen. Cochran to be healthy and continue his service to our state. Cochran has been a good senator, has done much for Mississippi and even more important, he is a very decent man. The Mississippi Conservative Daily mouthpiece site for McDaniel also shows if McDaniel challenges junior Sen. Roger Wicker in 2018 as some expect, the campaign will be as nasty and vulgar as McDaniel’s 2014 campaign against Cochran.
Native Mississippian to be honored by Washington, D.C. City Council (or yes, for some, the earth is still flat)
The city council of Washington, D.C. has voted to erect an 8′ bronze statue of former mayor and councilman Marion Barry. The statue will be placed in a prominent position on
Rev. Al Sharpton and his clones
The battle over Mississippi’s state flag continues with apparently no end in sight. Normal political lines are somewhat blurred over the state flag controversy. Besides Democrats, the NAACP, well-known Mississippians and others usually found on the left, the Mississippi Economic Council, some Republican leaders and many other conservatives strongly feel our state should adopt a new flag. But even if Mississippi abandons its current flag with the Confederate emblem insert, will that satisfy many of those who demanded the change? Of course not. It is not difficult to come up with a long target list for those who claim to be offended by the state’s history. We see that already in New Orleans. The group that spearheaded the removal of Confederate statues in NOLA has a new targeted list that includes the statue of Andrew Jackson at Jackson Square in the French Quarter, almost a dozen more monuments, the names of 24 streets in the city, the names of two hospitals and the names of seven schools. For starters in Mississippi, we don’t even have to consider the dozens of Confederate statues on town squares or in front of country court houses. Let’s start with the vast 33,000 acre Ross Barnett Reservoir, named after one of the most racist, if not the most racist governor in our state history. Down in Hattiesburg, we have the stadium where the USM Golden Eagles play football each fall. The stadium is affectionately known as “The Rock” to USM faithful, but the official name of the facility is M.M. Roberts Stadium. An easy argument can be made that M.M. Roberts was the most racist college board member in state history. If we head northeast from Hattiesburg, we arrive at Mississippi State University. A bust of Stephen D. Lee is in the middle of the drill field at MSU and Lee Hall is where the offices of MSU President Mark Keenum and other top administrators are located. Lee is appropriately honored at State because he was the first president of the school. Lee was also a lieutenant general in the Confederate States Army. At Ole Miss, we have already seen where previous chancellors Robert Khayat, Dan Jones and current UM head Jeffrey Vitter have bowed numerous times to sanitize the school’s history and traditions. Since South Carolina took down the Confederate flag flying at its state capital, states other than Mississippi don’t have a flag issue so the groups that want to revise history have targeted statues erected to honor Confederate generals and veterans. Does anyone really think a change in the state flag will satisfy Al Sharpton?
Bennie Thompson, Mayor Lumumba and some others should be called the “New Racists”
clones in our state like Congressman Bennie Thompson or Jackson Mayor Lumumba? Lumumba and Jackson councilman DeKeither Stamps and other activists held a press
Landslide vote against union at Nissan is a win
for Nissan workers and also for Mississippi
On the Monday after the Saturday when workers at the Nissan plant in Canton overwhelmingly rejected the United Automobile Workers attempt to unionize, The Wall Street Journal called the vote “another humiliation” for the UAW. The editorial noted the UAW spent heavily to win the unionization vote and enlisted supporters such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez and actor Danny Glover. Of course, the UAW was supported by Mississippi’s own congressman Bennie Thompson, the state NAACP and Jackson’s new mayor, Chokwe Lumumba. I had previously been told about 65 percent of the workers at the Nissan plant are black, but the WSJ said more than 80 percent of those who voted were African Americans. Of course, the UAW tried to exploit racial politics before the vote. Socialist Sen. Sanders said the UAW supporters were “connecting workers rights with civil rights.” Fortunately for the Nissan workers and future industrial development in Mississippi, playing the race card did not work for the UAW and its supporters like Bennie Thompson, longtime radical Danny Glover and Mayor Lumumba. The WSJ editorial was right on target when it said “race-baiting fell flat in Canton.” Most workers at the plant make $24-26 per hour. What do you think most of them would be making elsewhere? The WSJ also noted, and I assume the Nissan workers were also aware, a week before the vote a deceased UAW vice president teamed up with an official at Fiat-Chrysler to allegedly steal millions of dollars from a fund that was intended to train auto workers. The wife of the late UAW VP and the Fiat-Chrysler official have been indicted. UAW leaders often live high off the hog compared to the workers they represent. It is no wonder during the past 35 years the UAW’s ranks have shrunk by more than 75 percent. The Center for Union Facts also estimates during the past 10 years big labor unions have used more than $1 billion in member dues to donate to the Democratic Party and other left-wing special-interest groups. While workers at Nissan were voting 2,244 to 1,307 against joining the UAW, Toyota and Mazda announced they will spend $1.6 billion to build another assembly plant in the South. The plant is expected to have 4,000 jobs, a huge prize for whatever southern state is the winner of the competition to build the plant. That competition will be very stiff and Mississippi may be a longshot to win the plant, but one thing is very clear – if Nissan had lost the vote to the UAW, Mississippi would have zero chance to secure the economic development prize.
Correction and apology to Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins
In the August 2 WeidieReport, I commented that popular radio talk show host Bo Bounds noted a disclosure lapse at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. In that post I was incorrect when I wrote that veteran Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins had written several