By: Mike Biggs
The role of state party chairman has evolved over the past 20 years into more than that of a symbolic figurehead rallying the party faithful. The growing partisan divide coupled with the diminishing need for a strong centralized state party and the rise of super PACs via Citizens United has forced state parties to play more active roles in what used to be neutralized party primaries.
The Mississippi senate race is shaping up to be the last stand for the Tea Party and they’re not going down without a fight. Republicans are split between longtime Sen. Thad Cochran and Tea Party darling and state senator, Chris McDaniel. Quiet as it’s been kept there is also a primary on the Democratic side between former congressman Travis Childers and former Republican congressional candidate Bill Marcy.
Depending on whose polling you look at the race is either Cochran’s, McDaniels’ or Childers’ to loose. Thus, herein lies the problem.
Clearly the MSGOP is scared to death of McDaniel becoming the Republican nominee because of the likelihood it creates a path to victory for the preferred Democratic nominee. In the age of Todd Akin and Richard Murdock, a Chris McDaniel win would automatically put Mississippi into the toss up column and give national and state Democrats an opportunity that otherwise would be nonexistent.
Over on Congress Street, a similar dynamic is playing out. Some party faithful sought unsuccessfully to block Republican Bill Marcy from being certified to run as a Democrat for the US Senate but a vote by the party’s elections subcommittee thwarted that. Many Democrats, including Chairman Rickey Cole, make no qualms about who the Democratic nominee should and will be. Congressman Childers recently spoke before a gathering of the party’s executive committee in addition to the recent Young Democrats of Mississippi convention held last weekend in Rankin County.
While many Democrats are unhappy with Childers over votes he took as a northeast Mississippi congressman, he remains the party’s best shot against the eventual GOP nominee. Nosef made waves recently when he asked Chris McDaniel to clarify his affiliation with Pace Confederate Depot. PCD identifies itself as a dealer in Confederate, Tea Party, and White Pride Merchandise and is located in Baldwyn, Mississippi. This and the reference on MSNBC’s Chris Matthews show last week has led the Mississippi Tea Party to call for Nosef’s immediate resignation.
In a press release, MS Tea Party President, Laura van Overshelde, said the following “The MS Tea Party also calls on Joe Nosef to rescind his comments on the Paul Gallo Show last week in which he insinuated that Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Mississippi Chris McDaniel might cost the GOP a senate seat in the general election. It is inappropriate for Nosef to make such claims given his role as Chairman of the MS GOP. Accordingly, Joe Nosef should resign from his position as Chairman of the MS GOP effective immediately.”
Nosef responded saying “Anyone who has paid close attention to our US senate primary knows that I’ve not only stayed neutral with regard to the candidates but also worked relentlessly against efforts to divide our party.”
Cole, seems to be a better cat herder than Nosef. To date, he has seemingly coalesced the varying Democratic Party factions behind Travis Childers. A master orator, Cole has silenced critics, squashed detractors and forced the “armchair quarterbacks” to put up or shut up. Childers will undoubtedly be the Democratic nominee and will have the full weight of the state Democratic Party machine behind him, as he does now. In the 4th congressional district, the political epicenter of the 2014 cycle, Chairman Renick Taylor sounded a very optimistic tone. “I think we’re going to have an active and robust primary and I don’t think we will have a runoff”. Renick went on to say “A heavy turnout in the Democratic primary will be seen as a sign of strength by the DSCC and will bring resources into the state for our candidates”.
A telling sign will be the first quarter FEC reports that are due out today. Only Sen. Thad Cochran has released his totals raising a whopping $1.7 million dollars during the quarter. McDaniel, Childers and Marcy have yet to release their numbers.