Grassroots Republicans and conservatives across America are furious after the GOP establishment was exposed using dishonest, shameful, and potentially unlawful tactics against its own base in Mississippi. The goal of the dubious establishment operation was to prevent GOP voters from electing Tea Party-backed candidate Chris McDaniel, who was favored to win in a landslide based on surveys of Republican voters. In essence, though, the Republican establishment relied on lies, huge contributions from crony special interests, and deceitful fear-mongering to get Democrats to vote in the Mississippi GOP primary this week — likely in violation of state law, according to critics of the plot. Still, the fight is not over yet.
By a razor-thin margin of less than 6,500 votes, the exploitation of Democrats handed Big Government RINO incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (shown) a dubious victory. Critics and the McDaniel camp said the strategy was possibly against state election laws stating that primary voters must intend to support the party nominee in the general race. The Cochran win was certainly against the wishes of most Republican voters in the state. Indeed, exit polls conducted for the non-profit Independent Women’s Voice reveal that without the establishment’s scheme to rely on Democrat voters in the GOP primary, McDaniel would have crushed Cochran by a massive margin.
Among the 75 percent of survey respondents who said they “always” or “usually” vote Republican, for example, McDaniel beat Cochran by a 52-41 margin, with 7 percent refusing to say whom they voted for. Those who “always” vote GOP, meanwhile, voted for McDaniel over Cochran by a stunning 59 to 37 margin. Among voters who “usually” go Republican, the vote was split at 46 percent to 46 percent. Only among non-Republicans was Cochran in the lead. Among the survey respondents who said they “always” or “usually” vote Democrat, for example, the incumbent defeated McDaniel by 55 percent to 23 percent, with 23 percent refusing to say. Split-ticket voters also favored Cochran, the survey showed.
How did Cochran manage to get Democrats to vote in the GOP primary? Using lies, deception, and big establishment money. “The time has come to take a stand and say no to the tea party,” a Cochran “robocall” to Democrat voters claimed. “No to their obstruction. No to their disrespectful treatment of the first African-American president. If we do nothing, tea party candidate Chris McDaniel wins and causes even more problems for President Obama. With your help we can stop this. Please commit to voting against tea party candidate Chris McDaniel next Tuesday and say ‘no’ to the tea party!”
The establishment media, unsurprisingly, has framed McDaniel’s primary loss as a “punch in the gut” to the Tea Party — despite the fact that McDaniel beat Cochran in the first round and that most Republicans still favored him in the run-off. McDaniel’s campaign, however, is considering a challenge to the shady election ploys. Citing “dozens of irregularities,” McDaniel has refused to concede so far and said his campaign was considering whether a legal challenge was appropriate. It would start with the state GOP Executive Committee. He also blasted “some members” of the Republican Party willing to engage in ploys that are “unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan.”
“If our party and our conservative movement are to co-exist, it is paramount that we ensure the sanctity of the election process is upheld,” McDaniel said in a statement. “And we will do that. In the case of yesterday's election, we must be absolutely certain that our Republican primary was won by Republican voters.... We have fought too long and we have fought too hard to have a voice in this party, and today the conservative movement took a back seat to liberal Democrats in the state of Mississippi.” Echoing widespread sentiments expressed by conservatives and Republicans nationwide, he added: “It's no wonder so many conservatives don't feel welcome in the Republican Party.”
In an interview with Fox News personality Sean Hannity, McDaniel said he was considering a court challenge based on “a civil conspiracy to violate state law.” The campaign is currently examining the data and will make a decision on how to proceed in the coming days. Whether McDaniel will be able to support Cochran or make amends with the GOP establishment if any potential fight fails remains unclear. McDaniel said he had been praying about it. “They used everything from the race card to food stamps to saying I would shut down public education,” he said. “I’ve fought for this [Republican Party] all my life, but they abandoned us, made fun of us and ridiculed us and brought in 35,000 Democrats to beat us.”
The Tea Party-backed leader is not alone. The grassroots and even heavy-hitting figures such as conservative-leaning radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh are now in what appears to be a full-scale revolt against the GOP establishment. “The Republican establishment sought victory via Democrat voters in the runoff, and they got them,” fumed Limbaugh. “Without the African-American vote from Democrat-leaning counties, Thad Cochran would have lost by eight or nine percent last night.” Holding up a flyer distributed by the “Washington establishment — both parties” claiming that the Tea Party was going to seek to prevent blacks from voting, America’s top-rated host lambasted Cochran’s “corrupt and undeserved victory.” He called the tactics “reprehensible,” too.
FreedomWorks, a major grassroots organization that backed McDaniel, was also furious. “Rather than allow grassroots conservatives to decide their next senator, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, the Chamber of Commerce, K Street lobbyists, and the NRSC helped Democrats choose the Republican Nominee. It’s shameful, corrupt, and unforgivable,” noted prominent conservative activist Deneen Borelli, who is black, in an e-mail to FreedomWorks supporters. “The K-Street Lobbyist crowd even sent out robocalls implying the Tea Party and Chris McDaniel were racist, because we oppose Obama’s agenda. This campaign is among the dirtiest, most despicable I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
With $17 trillion in debt and a shrinking economy, she added, “the GOP campaigned on more irresponsible spending we can’t afford.” And that is why they needed Democrat voters to win — “every real Republican knows we need to CUT spending.” Of course, the establishment in both parties absolutely refuses to do that, despite occasional rhetoric by GOP bigwigs on the campaign trail. Borelli, though, was clearly furious about it.
“If the only way the K Street wing of the GOP Establishment can win is by vile race-baiting and courting Democrats to vote in GOP primaries, then we’re winning. Because they’ve lost Republican voters, and they know it,” she added in her outraged denunciation of the establishment and its tactics. “You know why the Republican Establishment and the DC-insiders fear us. They want to keep their gravy train rolling. They want unlimited spending and bigger government. That’s why they’re spending millions attacking patriotic conservatives like you and me.”
Whether the grassroots uprising that helped McDaniel win among Republicans will stand behind a court challenge against Cochran’s tactics remains to be seen. However, there are already some indications that local and national Tea Party groups may fight to the end. “There’s no doubt that the establishment used every trick in the book, and that among Republican voters in the Republican runoff, Chris McDaniel won,” said Jenny Beth Martin, chair of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund. “There may well be challenges over the irregularities that occurred Tuesday.”
While everyday Americans and Republicans were left fuming after the shenanigans, the Big Government-promoting establishment was more than pleased. Extremist former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for example — now infamous for dropping tens of millions to assault the Second Amendment — poured $250,000 into the campaign to beat McDaniel. Establishment Republican bigwigs and operative Karl Rove spent millions backing Cochran, and were very content with the results as well. Rove celebrated the underhanded “victory” in a column, but warned establishment politicians to at least listen to their constituents in the future from time to time if they hope to remain in power.
Special-interest groups were delighted, too. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, which has a crony agenda that aligns well with Obama’s and strongly backed Cochran, even claimed the election was a big win for “free enterprise.” In its e-mail celebrating its success, no mention was made of exploiting Democrats and the potential legal violations involved in what the Chamber claimed was the “people” coming out to support its Big Government-friendly candidate. Despite the $17 trillion in odious debt already foisted on America, numerous other interest groups at the state and national level hoping for more taxpayer funds from Cochran also celebrated.
On the other hand, McDaniel was endorsed by liberty-minded icons ranging from Ron Paul and Gun Owners of America to conservative pundits and Tea Party groups nationwide. Many expressed outrage over the dubious “loss,” but remained optimistic. Of course, the election results were not just another blow to the free market and to the Republican base — and likely the party itself. With an embarrassing cumulative score on The New American's Freedom Index of 54 percent, Cochran’s “victory” was certainly another loss for the U.S. Constitution, too. The score is based on a politician’s constitutional voting record, so Cochran has voted to defy his oath of office and betray his constituents on 46 percent of the scored votes.
The public uprising against the out-of-touch, bipartisan ruling establishment is growing louder by the day. Cochran’s narrow “victory” may have saved one RINO incumbent. However, with Americans increasingly realizing how far party insiders will go to keep themselves in power, the election brouhaha in Mississippi may be just the beginning of a national awakening. The GOP may have also just shot itself in the foot, too. The final outcome of the Mississippi race, though, remains to be seen.
Photo of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.): AP Images
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. He can be reached at