By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
Tupelo dentist Ed Holliday says he still supports the principles of the Tea Party and plans to stay active in the group even though members are upset with an opinion piece he wrote in the Daily Journal praising U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Cochran is being challenged in the June 3 Republican primary by state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Jones County, a Tea Party favorite.
Holliday, who writes a monthly point-counter point feature on the Saturday opinion page of the Daily Journal with James Hull, a Tupelo-based political consultant, said he was not endorsing Cochran in the commentary published May 10. He said he was trying to educate people on the good Cochran could do for Mississippi – especially if Republicans gain control of the Senate and Cochran again serves as Appropriations chairman.
Referring to Cochran’s role in the Senate, Holliday wrote, “Ask the negotiators of the recently passed farm bill who worked the hardest. And when Mississippi needs a leader to deliver disaster aid like after Hurricane Katrina, who does that best?”
The comments resulted in a statement from the Central Mississippi Tea Party that said “portraying Dr. Ed Holliday as a ‘Tea Party leader/spokesman’ does not represent any known Tea Party group in the Mississippi Tea Party. His premise does not represent the conservative principles of the Mississippi Tea Party… The Mississippi Tea Party has enthusiastically endorsed Chris McDaniel’s candidacy because of his unwavering conservative principles reflecting the true values of the United States Constitution.”
Grant Sowell, chairman of the Tupelo Tea Party, described Holliday as a friend, who “has a right to his opinion. I am not asking him to be removed from the Tea Party, but his position is clearly not the position of the Tupelo Tea Party or any other Tea Party. He is the only person I know who calls himself Tea Party who takes the position he does.”
Sowell said, “I am not going to throw him under the bus or tell him he’s not a member of the Tea Party any more.”
The issue has come to light, Sowell said, because the Cochran campaign or supporters have circulated on the Internet a portion of Holliday’s commentary as an example of a Tea Party leader supporting Cochran.
“I have a bigger problem with the Cochran campaign using that clip than I do with Ed,” Sowell said.
Holliday said he will back the GOP nominee – McDaniel or Cochran – and that he agreed with the Reagan philosophy of not talking bad about another Republican.
“I was in the Tea Party from the beginning or nearly the beginning,” Holliday said. “I believe in the spirit of the Tea Party, but I am not going to get into every battle.”