SID SALTER: Bizarre antics aside, turnout will decide GOP primary



The Mississippi Republican U.S. Senate primary has reached depths of dirt, deceit and that go beyond anything in modern state political history – and as a young man I covered the 1983 Mississippi governor’s race between Bill Allain, Leon Bramlett and Charles Evers.

Some 30 years after the final two weeks of that race were rocked by allegations against Allain that most observers believed would torpedo his chances of being elected governor, Allain went on to win 74 of the state’s 82 counties.

In the current Senate primary, the safety and dignity of a vulnerable dementia patient has been determined to be expendable if it moves the political needle. What happened to Rose Clayton Cochran was despicable, deplorable and disgusting.

But at the end of the day, there are certain rules that apply to politics regardless the candidates and regardless the outrageous nature of charges and countercharges in heated campaigns.

First, incumbency and name identification are powerful allies. In this race, ultra-conservative groups with national agendas have sought to make incumbency a dirty word.

Despite the money pumped into Mississippi by “astroturf” groups and super PACs, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran goes into the June 3 primary with incumbency and name identification solidly on his side.

Second, there’s the matter of urgency. On this count, state Sen. Chris McDaniel is clearly ahead.

There are no small numbers of Cochran supporters who’ve convinced themselves that Cochran’s name ID and incumbency guarantees not only a victory over McDaniel, but a more than 20 percentage point victory like that earned Tuesday by Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell over Tea Party-backed challenger.

Third, there’s turnout and the strength of the “GOTV” or organized get-out-the-vote efforts. As evidenced by the current slate of statewide elected officials in Mississippi, the Republican Party in Mississippi has essentially owned this state.

The vaunted “72-hour plan” voter mobilization efforts – where phone calls are made inquiring if likely supporters have indeed voted, where doors get knocked on multiple times, where voter registration is verified and where volunteers are accountable to votes in the way that salesmen are accountable for sales – has long been the stuff of Republican success in Mississippi.

But this is a Republican primary. There will be virtually no local races on the ballot statewide. In only one congressional district – the 4th District – is there another contested Republican primary and it’s a hot one between incumbent U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo and former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor.

The mantle of incumbency gives Cochran serious advantages. There are few towns, counties, regions, organizations or individuals that Cochran hasn’t helped during a long and productive career. More people know him simply as “Thad” than as Sen. Cochran.

But generating and harnessing intensity is the province of youth, of outsiders, and of underdogs. That’s McDaniel’s hole card.

The management and motivation of turnout will decide this race – as it decides most races – nothing more, nothing less.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. He is the chief spokesman for Mississippi State University. Contact him at (601) 507-8004 or

Click video to hear audio

  • Pingback: SALTER: Antics aside, turnout will decide GOP primary. | Mississippi PEP()

  • Barryjohn7714

    Issue 1. $17,000,000,000,000 US debt. Cochran has voted to raise the debt limit more than 20 time and votes for any spending bill as long as some of that borrowed money goes to MS. McDaniel has voted against more borrowing bills in MS than any other active Senator.
    Issue 2. Amnesty for all illegal invaders. Cochran has voted twice against the boarder fence. Cochran is backed by th US Chamber of Commerce and by Washington Lobbyist Haley Barbour. Both badly want Amnesty for all illegal invaders. McDaniel has signed the Fair Immigration Reform Pledge.
    Issue 3. Cochran not spoken out against any of the Obama and Democrat Regime’s evil and criminal activities. Where has Thad been hiding on ObamaCare, the Benghazi murders, IRS Targeting, NSA spying and Fast & Furious gun running? Absolutely Silent! McDaniel is energetic and fearless and will speak out for us at every opportunity.
    Issue 4. Why vote for a guy who won’t even serve out his term. It’s well known that Cochran, if reelected will retire in two years.
    If these things don’t get you to the poll to vote for McDaniel, you deserve the government you get!

    • Thile

      Issue 1. You and your candidate fail to explain how he’d solve any of the issues you listed in your wall-o-text. Other than some sound bites, what would “speaking out” achieve?

      Issue 2. What’s with the random capitalization?

      Issue 3. Campaigning in comments sections is a shatred trait among McDaniel supporters. Maybe he can get you guys a job as a page when he returns to the state senate in the fall.

    • TWBDB

      BJ7714, we all have issue with government debt. The difference is in our approach to get us back on track. The best approach is a combination of spending cuts and revenue generation: most certainly the best approach is getting the business of governance to run better no hobbling it at every turn. My choice wouldn’t be Cochran or McDaniel – what else you got ?

      Benghazi was one tragedy, how about the myriad of tragedies we experience from mentally ill patients with guns in their hands just about every week now? What would you man do about that?

  • barney fife

    The overall attitude and level of cooperation demonstrated by the entire GOP during the Obama presidency has been shameful. We have never had such a non-functional Legislative Branch in our history. The GOP is marching in reverse.

  • 1941641

    To Barryjohn7714:

    If Cochran is re-elected, Mississippi floats, if McDaniel is elected,the government gets “shut- down” again and Mississippi sinks. It will be one of the first to go since Mississippi does not pay its own way toward survival, it’s dependent on Washington and that covers a lot of people including Sen Cochran and Obama. For example, if Obama Care is repealed, millions will again be without health insurance and that’s detrimental to the overall welfare of the country. If McDaniel gets elected he will likely show his ignorance and shut down the government again, go after health care for millions of needy people. Apparently, you , Barryjohn, don’t care about the uninsured. Is that the TP platform for America? Looks like it to me. It’s what you call Mc Daniel’s being “energetic and fearless,” but to the detriment of who, may I ask? I’d say the ‘who ‘are the citizens of Mississippi, especially those who vote regularly and love their fellow-Mississippians and desire a progressive style of politics for the future.

    Before it’s all over, Mc Daniel will succeed in shooting himself in the foot. It’s really already happened: These “TP Hoodlum” events over the last several days involving Sen. Thad’s nursing- home- bound elderly wife are the straw that broke the Tea party’s back in this the year 2014. The TP is on the decline all across this country today. What it aspired to be and was not is, for historical purposes, left up to the political experts that go into a frenzy over studying and reporting “political failures in America.”