When my wife woke up Friday morning I had to tell her the sad news. Chris McDaniel had filed his legal challenge for his primary defeat by Sen. Thad Cochran. That challenge includes wanting the court to exclude all the votes cast in Hinds County. Since my wife and I vote in Hinds County, I had to tell her our voting rights could go down the drain. Seriously, can sore loser McDaniel, his lead counsel Mitch Tyner, and other leaders in his campaign give us more bizarre headlines on a daily basis?
But after realizing that our votes could be tossed, my next concern was for Tyner. In McDaniel’s infamous binder containing alleged election fraud that was handed out at a press conference, Tyner was listed as an “irregular” voter.
On Thursday it was reported that Kirk Sims, Sen. Cochran’s campaign manager, was stepping aside as campaign manager and would stay with the campaign as an “adviser.” To most campaign insiders and close friends of Cochran, the news was very welcome. Sims was Gov. Phil Bryant’s chief of staff before he left to manage the Cochran campaign. Not quite so incidental is that Sims is also Sen. Roger Wicker’s son-in-law. Those close to Cochran say that when Sims first interviewed with Cochran for the campaign manager’s job, Cochran was not impressed. He was later named campaign manager evidently because of a big push by his father-in-law and Gov. Bryant.
Mitch Tyner, lawyer for the Chris McDaniel campaign, held a press conference Monday afternoon at the Hinds County Court House. Tyner again discussed a legal challenge by the McDaniel campaign based on what he called “ineligible voters” in the June 24 runoff between McDaniel and Sen. Cochran. The Jackson lawyer also charged that absentee ballots represented the greatest opportunity for voter fraud.
Last Wednesday, Mississippians saw these big headlines splashed across the front page of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger: “More accusations, more rumors, more challenges.”
Even the mainstream press and broadcast media are starting to report rumors and false accusations like they are legitimate news. Late in the day, Chris McDaniel sent out a fundraising email saying that Thad Cochran “stole” the election. And of course the next day McDaniel offered a $1,000 bounty to people who could prove voter fraud. Mississippians were sick of this election even long before the June 3 primary and June 24 runoff. That disgust has only grown since Cochran won the runoff.
Surely, even some of the reasonable voters that supported McDaniel must be sick of what is taking place now. I’m confident that a majority of Mississippians share my feelings that it’s enough, it’s over and let’s end all this crap that is taking place.
In the more than 20 years I spent in journalism as an publisher, editor, and political columnist, there has always been a debate concerning whether newspaper endorsements help, hurt, or make a difference for a candidate. Apart from that argument, a good reason to consider an endorsement is simply to let the publication’s readers know the official position of the newspaper on those seeking political office. During last month’s heated and bitter campaign between incumbent Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel, the Clarion-Ledger, the largest newspaper in the state of Mississippi, took a walk. Of all recent political contests, taking a walk in the Cochran-McDaniel race is pretty pathetic. The popular assumption is that the Clarion-Ledger did not endorse either candidate because both candidates failed to appear before the newspaper’s editorial board. That in itself shows a little arrogance.
For his campaign leadership, Sen. Cochran had Kirk Sims and Josh Gregory fostered on him by Sen. Roger Wicker and Gov. Bryant. Sims was Bryant’s chief of staff before he was named campaign manager. No small factor is that Sims is Wicker’s son-in-law. Gregory has always been the man behind the throne for Bryant, and Gregory is already looking for his next horse to ride into the Governor’s Mansion after Bryant presumably is re-elected and serves his second term.
While the Cochran campaign had other able campaign professionals, by any measure, the management of the campaign was a disaster.