November 7, 2014
“We are going to crush them everywhere. … I don’t think they [the Tea Party] are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country,” -Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky
I’m sure glad the election is over. For one thing, it’ll give me a chance to clean out my inbox which for weeks has been flooded daily with pleas for money by Republican PACs and super PACs for candidates across the country, many of whom I knew next to nothing about – and from what I’ve learned I wouldn’t vote for anyway. What’s really crazy is that I’m not even a registered Republican (haven’t been for decades), yet I’ve been targeted for emails designed to guilt-trip me into donating to a slew of GOP campaigns and goals. Other voters like myself are registered with third parties, have told me the same story – they’re being money bombed by GOP groups. The Dems send stuff too, but nowhere near as much.
It started slowly several months ago as a trickle of requests, but became a tsunami the closer we got to the midterm elections.
I don’t recall this level of pressure in past elections – not even in 2010 and 2012. My quarrel is not because requests are being made, but with the strident pitch of these pleadings: it’s been insistent, demanding and downright insulting.
One on behalf of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) was particularly annoying, signed by none other than House Speaker John Boehner. It was partly boldfaced by whoever wrote it a signal that this is a Serious Matter and I should pay close attention.
Governor Mitt Romney emailed you
Congressman Paul Ryan emailed you
Vice President Dick Cheney emailed you
Governor Tom Ridge emailed you
Our team at the NRCC sent me the spreadsheet of recent supporters and I don't see your name on the list. We need all of our grassroots supporters engaged in these final weeks before Election Day.
It is important that you know, Sarah, that your investment will be used immediately to help our great slate of common-sense Republican candidates mobilize voters and get our supporters to the polls. …
Speaker of the House
“Common-sense Republican candidates” -- that’s code for those “moderate” wusses who, once they’re elected to Congress, follow the GOP leadership and work in tandem with Democrats to expand government intrusion in our lives, raise taxes and increase the national debt.
I can’t tell you the number of on-line petitions I’ve signed urging John Boehner and his colleagues to stand firm against the latest proposed outrage, only to have them cave at the end. Boehner never listens to us and now he’s asking for our support, essentially holding me and other outlanders responsible for GOP losses on Nov. 4 -- and using my first name like we’re best friends.
Sorry, John, I’ve got to say no.
Not to be outdone by the NRCC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) keeps firing off emails, warning that America’s fate depended on my sending a few bucks and pointing out that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Ben Carson, Mike Lee and John McCain have “taken the time to contact [me] and ask for [my] support,”and I’ve not responded. Oh, the shame!
Judging from the frequency and intensity of these appeals, I figure I’m not the only one who refused to answer the calls. And I’m betting it’s for much the same reason: Why give aid and comfort to a political party that spends its funds in efforts to destroy its base and boasts about doing so?
Crushing the Tea Party
Consider that snippy remark by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, “we are going to crush them everywhere” -- “them” being, as Carl Hulse of the NY Times put it, “the network of activist organizations working against him (McConnell) and two Republican incumbents in Kansas and Mississippi while engaging in a handful of other contests.” That’s you and me he’s talking about.
This was a declaration of war on the tea party, its candidates and allies – conservatives, constitutionalists, the “liberty movement” in general. As McConnell indicates, he and his buddies decided to use the primaries to wipe out any meaningful political activity by the right. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country,” McConnell gloated.
That was in March. Eight months later the strategy appears to have worked, at least for some of the midterm primaries. Certain attempts to take over congressional districts already held by conservative or libertarian-leaning Republicans by sending in “moderate” challengers were unsuccessful, but on the Senate side no GOP incumbent lost a primary.
According to Alexander Burns, reporting for POLITICO, “With a few exceptions, in the races where the establishment and the right have gone head to head, the latter has come up short.”
Burns described the cost of these victories as “staggering.” By late June, “the scope of the effort to suppress activist-backed candidates” covered at least 20 House and Senate primaries “from North Carolina to California and from Mississippi to the tip of Long Island,” and establishment-backed groups had spent some $23 million to prop up D.C.-favored candidates.
That $23 million doesn’t come close to being a full accounting of what the candidates on the approved list spent of their own funds to win their nomination fights, said Burns. Sens. McConnell, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas “have collectively spent tens of millions more from their campaign accounts.” (Emphasis mine).
Add in the money raised and controlled by state GOP PACs, a bunch of dollars from the Chamber of Commerce – a million here, a million there -- hey, you’re talking real money.
“The loose coalition of establishment forces encompasses two dozen advocacy groups, industry associations and super PACs that have raised and spent millions on behalf of Washington’s chosen candidates,” said Burns.
One of those chosen candidates is Mississippi’s six-term U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, 76, who was first elected to Congress as a representative in 1972, then to the Senate in 1978 where over the years he’s earned the title: King of Pork, because of the federal tax money he’s been able to get directed to the Magnolia State. Freedom Works scores him at 55, and lists his Top Ten Worst Votes. Among these is support for an Internet Sales Tax and a vote to end debate and allow Senate Democrats to re-insert funding for ObamaCare into the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government.
On Oct. 1, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, 42, filed papers to enter the primary against Cochran. At the time it wasn’t certain the senior senator planned to run for a seventh term. Indeed, he waited until mid-December to announce his candidacy – setting in motion the most sordid and expensive of the anti-tea party primary battles of this election cycle, a contest that revealed to the world the depths to which establishment Republicans are willing to sink to keep an incumbent in power and maintain the status quo.
The Mississippi Republican Party is so strongly entrenched that it’s basically guaranteed that whoever wins the primary will be elected in November. At stake was not the selection of the best candidate to fend off a possible Democratic takeover. It was about “crushing” a candidate deemed unacceptable to the D.C. elite. It was about money and power and keeping control of both.
“There’s a huge rift in the Republican Party in Mississippi, and it’s not going away any time soon,” said Kevin Broughton, spokesperson for the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, in a telephone interview. “I said before the primary that I think the Republican Party has been fundamentally changed in Mississippi – but I didn’t know how much it would be changed as a result of the vicious and vile tactics used against Chris McDaniel by the mainstream of the Mississippi Republican Party.”
Before the details disappear down the memory hole, a recap is in order.
On June 3, McDaniel, 42, defeated Cochran, coming within a hair’s breadth of winning the Republican primary. Of a total 318,902 votes cast, McDaniel won 157,733; with Cochran taking 156,315 – a difference between the two of 1,418 votes. However, a third candidate, Thomas Carey, garnered 4,854 votes, enough to keep McDaniel from getting the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.
In Mississippi candidates for a general election are selected through an “open primary.” Voters are not registered according to party, but at the precinct polling place they sign a roll book according to which primary they wish to vote in, and are given appropriate ballots. Runoffs, like primaries, are also open to all registered voters, whether or not they voted in the primary -- as long as they did not vote in another party’s primary.
So in a Republican runoff, all registered voters can vote except those who had voted in the Democratic primary. (Yes, there was one, which saw former-congressman Travis Childers taking 74 percent of the vote in a four-way race.)
Both sides realized that to win the runoff, a large number of Mississippians who had not voted in the Republican primary would have to be motivated to go to the polls – and they were.
A second contest was held June 24, with over 63,000 more people voting – “marking the first time in 30 years that a rematch created more interest than the contest it followed,” reported David Marosko for MailOnline.
The official results: from a total of 382,197 votes cast statewide, Cochran won 194,932; McDaniel, 187,265 – just 7,667 votes (2 percent) separating them. Both sides had increased their vote totals substantially – McDaniel by 29,532; Cochran by 38,617.
That’s a big jump on Cochran’s side. Where did so many votes come from? Basically, it took a lot of money, a lot of outside help, and a complete lack of scruples on the part of Cochran’s backers.
Following his June 3 defeat, the GOP machine – in D.C. and Mississippi -- went into full attack mode. Strategists (including Democratic operatives) were called in, plans were laid, messages sharpened, money allocated -- a lot of money. The plan was simple: since there was obviously a high level of support for McDaniel among Republican rank-and-file, the strategists decided to identify those Mississippians who were presumed to be Democratic but had not voted in the Democratic primary and get them to the polls. Since many of these are African American, those are the voters you go after.
Here’s how it went down, as reported by Alexander Burns for POLITICO:
“By the time the second round of balloting rolled around on June 24, a collection of groups that might be dubbed the Emergency Committee for Mississippi had spent millions on new television ads, knocked on tens of thousands of doors and reached out to voters – including African-Americans and democrats – who had likely never voted before in a GOP primary.
“The hoped-for payoff came Tuesday night, when Cochran bested McDaniel by some 6.400 votes – a margin of less than 2 percentage points. In a gut punch to conservative activists, Cochran’s survival proved just how much swat national party leaders have when they compete to win by any means necessary.”
It also proved how little integrity and moral compass those national party leaders have.
By Any Means Necessary
Included under the “by any means necessary” rubric was a series of race-baiting flyers, robocalls and radio ads targeting black voters, designed to frighten them into voting for a Republican. Media coverage in general did not focus on the actual content of these campaign tools, mentioning them briefly as part of a broad effort to persuade to Democrats to vote GOP, but without going into details. The public was left with the idea that McDaniel and his tea party supporters were angry because the Cochran campaign had “reached out” to black voters.
An exception was David Marosko, U.S. political editor for the U.K.-based MailOnline, whose story contains embedded audio of the ads – one of the few sites I’ve found on the Internet where you can actually listen to them.
“Politics in America’s Deep South is historically a full-contact sport replete with its own tradition of dirty tricks, but the radio ads indicate a level of race-baiting that is rarely seen in twenty-first century U.S. politics,” Marosko writes.
The ads claimed that supporters of McDaniel had ties to the Ku Klux Klan and warned that if he were elected black voters could lose food stamps, early breakfast and lunch programs, housing assistance, student loans, and disaster assistance. A listener was further cautioned that the Tea Party would try to stop blacks from voting.
“Vote against the Tea Party. Vote Thad Cochran,” one ad urged. “If the Tea Party with their racist ideas wins, we will be sent back to the '50s and '60s.”
In similar vein,a printed flyer warned that “The Tea Party intends to prevent you from VOTING – if challenged, demand your right to vote! Don’t let Tea Party representatives discourage you from voting in the Senate run-off on Tuesday, June 24.”
Then there were the robocalls into Democrat-heavy areas – with a female voice telling whoever picked up the phone: “The time has come to take a stand and say NO to the Tea Party …No to their obstruction, No to their disrespectful treatment of the first African-American President …”
More shenanigans were detailed in letter sent July 15 by a coalition of groups to Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, calling attention to the fact (among other things) that the chair of the Mississippi Democratic Party, Ricky Cole, had complained in a Facebook message to a Wall Street Journal reporter that “large sums of cash are being passed around … These guys are old school ‘walking around money’ vote buyers. It is happening in Hinds County, but they are trying to move black voters in the Delta, adams [sic], Jefferson, and Claiborne too.”
So you have race-baiting robocalls and radio ads, incendiary flyers, “walking around” money (as in vote-buying) – it was rude, crude, but effective. Enough black voters turned out to tip the runoff to Cochran.
The mainstream media chose downplay this, but it shocked many Mississippians.
“I haven’t seen anything like that in the 20 years I’ve lived in Mississippi,” said TPPPCF Spokesperson Kevin Broughton. “We expect that from Democrats. But for a Republican to say that about another Republican, to invoke the imagery of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, is beyond the pale. It’s heartbreaking in a very personal sense.”
McDaniel and his supporters did not give up. Over the six weeks following the runoff, volunteers spent thousands of hours combing the polling books that voters signed at the precincts and were stored at county courthouses looking for evidence of double-voting and other infringements.
On Aug 4, the campaign presented a formal challenge of the election results to the state Republican Party, asking that McDaniel be declared the winner. “We’re not asking for a new election,” attorney Mitch Tyner said at a press conference. “We’re simply asking that the Republican Party recognize the person who won the runoff election.” Tyner said they’d uncovered 3,500 examples of ballots cast by voters who had voted in the Democratic primary; 9,500 ballots that are “questionable” and about 2,275 absentee that were improperly cast.
The Republican National Committee refused, so McDaniel and Tyner, his attorney, took the matter to court. The judge did not rule on the evidence, but said the plaintiffs had waited too long to bring an action. However, McDaniel’s attorneys argue that Mississippi law does not specify a deadline for filing a challenge of election results, An appeal followed, with the court upholding the judge’s ruling. Despite setbacks, they are resolved to keep the case active.
In a parallel effort to prompt the Republican National Committee to action, TPPCF compiled a 23-page in-depth analysis of titled Mississippi: A Case Study in Republican Race-Baiting, releasing it Aug. 7 for consideration by the NRC which was meeting in Chicago. The report called on the committee “to denounce the racist attacks leveled at Chris McDaniel and to formally censure Henry Barbour.”
Henry Barbour is the nephew of former-governor Haley Barbour -- founder of Mississippi Conservatives PAC, which he set up in January to deal with the threat posed by McDaniel, and putting Henry in charge as CEO. Haley Barbour donated personally to the PAC, and his lobbying firm, the Washington-BRG Group, held a fundraiser for Cochran and five senior officers from the firm wrote checks to Cochran’s campaign. There’s a lot more, but you get the idea.
In a press release announcing its study, TPP president Jenny Beth Martin slammed the GOP for inaction. “By not repudiating such despicable conduct, you’ll tell 183,000 conservatives in Mississippi, ‘Yes, it’s fine that Democrats chose your nominee, and yes, the Barbour machine had to be preserved at all costs,’” she said. “And Reince, never again accuse Harry Reid or Eric Holder of playing the race card. Because by your silence you’ve forfeited the right to complain, and have endorsed the shameful tactic yourself.”
The report is a must read/must print out for anyone following this sordid story of politics in the Deep South and the uphill efforts of those trying to fight the obvious stereotypes of greed, race-baiting, big money, and political dynasties. Audio links are provided to the radio ads.
Remember my comments about the NRSC? Not surprisingly, they’re involved as well in this scandal.
According to FEC records and presented in the Case Study -- NRSC donated $45,000 to Citizens for Cochran; spent $175,000 against fellow Republican Chris McDaniel; claims to be the only national organization solely devoted to electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate and previously vowed to stay out of primaries – yet raised over $800,000 for Thad Cochran.
And they’re still hounding me for money.
Trawling for Dollars
In his 2007 book, Freezing in the Dark: Money, Power, Politics and the vast Left Wing Conspiracy, noted researcher/writer Ron Arnold points out that when it came to campaign contributions Democrats weren’t the “party of the working man” as is generally believed. Instead, “they depended on high-dollar donations from trial lawyers and tinsel-town celebrities … and other limousine liberals.”
“The Republicans,” Arnold continues, “by contrast and despite their media image as cigar-chomping Wall Street big shots, had for decades cultivated multitudes of small donors who gave ‘hard money’ in amounts of $200 or under.”
Here’s what seems to be happening. I’ll assume that donations to the GOP have not come in at the rate they normally do in an election year and the poor-mouthing by the fundraisers has not been pure hype. If that is the case, if the Republican Party is in financial trouble – it’s not hard to figure out why. The leadership, in its zeal to crush the tea party, has spent a lot of the money from the super PACs, at the same time alienating significant numbers of small donors upon which the GOP traditionally depends. And these rank-and-file members have quietly retaliated by not opening their wallets on command.
Super PACs like the NRSC and NRCC have been forced to trawl voter rolls and other lists looking for third-party registrants, independents, and other right-of-center sympathizers that might possibly be drawn into widely cast fundraising nets.
The letter writers are in full panic mode. I’ve been receiving as many as five or six emails a day from John Boehner, and he’s no longer asking for $5 or $10 donations -- he’s demanding that I “chip in” $50 – that’s five-0 bucks, folks!
John – What is it about No you don’t understand? Tea Partiers and other “roots” of the Liberty Movement that you and your corporate buddies have scorned are sending a message. It’s short, not sweet but long overdue -- NO, MEANS NO!
� 2014 Sarah Foster - All Rights Reserved
Sarah Foster is a political researcher and freelance writer in Sacramento, Calif. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from U.C., Berkeley and a M. A in folklore-mythology from U.C.L.A. A regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, her writings have also appeared in WorldNetDaily, Reason Magazine, Orange County Register, and other libertarian/conservative publications.
Sarah can be reached at: [email protected].