As “establishment” incumbent Republican Thad Cochran is poised to defeat tea party challenger Chris McDaniel, purportedly with help from Democratic and African-American voters (Mississippi is an open primary), Russert had this hot take to share with America:Maybe it was. Russert later explained he was making a "Don King reference." And I suppose if we remember Don King's famous catch phrase, "I meant to do that," then, yeah, OK.
Only in #USA can a 76yr old white man from #Mississippi be the Republican who figured out how to turn out African-Americans for #GOPSo… only in America could something that could literally only happen in America happen. Unless some other country has a Republican Party, a state called Mississippi and — somehow — a significant population of African-Americans, Russert’s analysis makes zero percent sense. Or maybe it was a bizarre attempt at humor.
— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) June 25, 2014
But Russert, being the scion of one of our nation's most prestigious Punditry Earldoms, does know his manners. He keeps his observations as light and accessible as possible so as not to confuse people. That only in the #USA could a thing happen in Mississippi is an inescapable fact.
Well, now it is anyway. There was a time once when this might have been in doubt. In fact Mississippi Republican primary voters are sometimes known for their quirky loose grasp on whether or not that was actually settled all the way which can lead to some interesting situations.
The victory for Cochran marks the end of a long, bloody, and often bizarre primary election that took center stage in the GOP Civil War and included two separate episodes, one, in which a McDaniel supporter and political blogger was arrested for photographing Cochran's wife to use in an anti-Cochran video and another where McDaniel supporters found themselves locked in the Hinds County, Mississippi courthouse (where election ballots are kept) after the building had been locked. McDaniel was also dogged in the race for appearing at at least one neo-Confederate event and having been slated to attend another tea party event that featured a vendor of Confederate merchandise.So in order to ward off his Tea Party affiliated (possibly neo-Confederate) fire-breathing challenger, the patrician Senator reached out to Democratic crossover voters some of which, it turns out, are not white.
Cochran's pouring lots of money into GOTV efforts and he's made little secret post-primary that he's seeking Democratic and African-American votes. And there seems little question that he's got the McDaniel camp worried. It even gets a little more concrete. A pro-Cochran super PAC has hired a Democratic operative named James "Scooby Doo" Warren (yeah, who knows) to do GOTV work in the state's African-American community. The PAC is tied to a prominent African-American pastor named Ronnie Crudup Sr. And if that's not enough, Warren has made clear that he's going to be working to elect Democratic nominee Travis Childers.Nevermind that last line about this Warren guy "working to elect" the Democrat. I'm sure he'll take that money too, of course. But the reason he went to work for Cochran was because this primary is the only race that matters.
Following a longstanding southern trend, Mississippi has arrived at something like the "one-party rule" scenario that once allowed Democrats to hold sway only a few generations ago. Only now the GOP is where all the meaningful action takes place. When we're back to a situation where the "second primary" is the de facto general election, you should expect to see candidates appeal to a broader constituency there.
McDaniel is suspicious, though
Instead, McDaniel, in his election night speech to supporters on Tuesday, suggested that he would fight the election results. McDaniel said "there is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that's decided by liberal Democrats."Of Cochran's voters, McDaniel added, "Hell they ain't even old timey!"
McDaniel's comments are a clear reference to the Cochran campaign seeking out the support of African-Americans and Democratic voters in the state to bringing him over the finish line in the runoff. Even though McDaniel won in the runoff it was by a slim margin. When the race was called late on Tuesday with 98 percent reporting Cochran led McDaniel 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent.
"As you know there were literally dozens of irregularities reported across this state. And you know why. You read the stories. You're familiar, you're familiar with the problems that we had," McDaniel said.
If he persists in challenging, I wouldn't expect McDaniel to overturn the result. At the same time, though, I'd caution against putting much stock in the next round of "Now the Tea Party is surely dead" observations we're sure to see. (Perhaps Luke Russert will tweet one for us.) On the contrary, nothing fires up the right wing base like a good long racially charged exercise in false victimhood. This one is bound to have legs enough to get us through the heart of the summer.
And suddenly it's time for midterms where whatever happens will be difficult to spin as anything other than a net Republican gain. And then we're on to a year and a half of Benghazi hearings before it's time for Stupid Season Staring Hillary Clinton to begin. Can't imagine we'll be living in a world of only "sensible Republicans" by then. But we will still be living in the #USA and only in the #USA. Or at least one hopes we will. Otherwise, Russert might be out of a job.