What People Are Missing About the Conservative Rage in Mississippi

Before we turn the page from the Mississippi GOP Seante runoff–or at least await further developments–there’s a point about the rage being expressed by McDaniel supporters that I’m not sure many observers are quite “getting.” Yes, of course, they’re furious that Team Cochran succeeded in expanding the electorate in no small part by convincing African-Americans who normally vote Democratic to participate in the runoff. That partly reflects partisanship, and for some, may reflect racism. But what they’re screaming about is that Cochran campaigned on his ability to bring federal money to Mississippi, and in the eyes of many Tea Folk, his campaign simply expanded the beneficiaries from business types and defense workers to those people, and reminded them they were part of the same corrupt circle of beneficiaries of Big Government. Here’s National Review‘s John Fund:

Establishment players will justify their tactics by claiming that all is fair in politics. Austin Barbour, a relative of former governor Haley Barbour, even went so far as to claim of the Cochran campaign: “We’ve spent a lot of time bringing a conservative message to black voters, as well as to white voters, the old and young, men and women.” Actually, the message was the antithesis of conservatism — that only an aging 76-year-old incumbent can bring home pork-barrel projects that largely benefit a business elite while the state’s voters are saddled with more federal debt.

After finishing second in the June 3 primary, many Republicans probably expected Cochran to compete with McDaniel in the kind of “who’s the most conservative” competition that has characterized most GOP primaries in this cycle and its immediate predecessors. That he went in the opposite direction and intensified his non-conservative message and broadcast it to those people, he effectively left the conservative movement and behaved exactly like a Democrat.

Remember, to the Tea Folk the Democratic Party is precisely the kind of overclass/underclass coalition of looters they accuse Thad Cochran of bringing into a GOP primary. This is a “betrayal” they will never forget, and will never forgive of Cochran’s “conservative” backers like the Barbours, Gov. Phil Bryant, and Sen. Roger Wicker.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.