MARTY RUSSELL: What’s that music? GOP defectors?



Either I’ve been trapped in a forgotten episode of “The Twilight Zone” for the past couple of weeks or the Kool-Aid so many of this state’s voters drank back in the late ‘70s and ‘80s is starting to wear off.

With the amazing come-from-behind victory of Sen. Thad Cochran over Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in last week’s GOP runoff, it would appear that many of the state’s voters are starting to wake up from the far right zombification stupor they have been in for the past few decades and are starting to realize that maybe the ancient Greeks were right when they advocated all things in moderation.

The fact that the Cochran camp was able to see which way the wind was blowing and convince many non-Republicans to – legally under Mississippi law – switch sides at least for the primary is encouraging. Maybe the sheep are starting to show some, er, teeth again for a change.

Many of those who crossed over in the runoff and gave Cochran a win were voting not so much for Cochran as against McDaniel, whose extremist rhetoric and campaign tactics frightened many of them as so it should in a state so dependent on federal help.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t honestly believe the split in the Republican ranks really gives Democrats any better chance of a win in Mississippi, if it did, I would really expect to hear the results announced by Rod Serling. But it could be a step in the right direction away from the far right and towards more moderate views that could actually benefit the poorest state in the nation.

One notable sign that that may actually be occurring is the resignation this week of the chairman of the Mississippi Federation of College Republicans who announced he is joining the Democratic Party. When was the last time you heard a prominent political figure in this state do that? It’s usually the other way around.

Mississippi State student Evan Alvarez, the MFCR chairman, said he was resigning and joining the Democrats because he was elected to lead state college Republicans, “not the Mississippi Federation of College ‘Tea-Partiers’” which he said had shifted “too far to the right.”

Alvarez said his decision came after Tea Party supporters disrupted a meeting where a MFCR member was being reprimanded for his support of McDaniel in violation of rules prohibiting using the organization’s name to support a particular candidate in a primary with more than one Republican candidate.

So maybe we’re all “traveling through another dimension,” as Serling intoned in the opening of each “Twilight Zone.” Maybe it’s time for the Tea Party to stop riding the coattails of the GOP and strike out on its own if it really feels it’s “right” and the rest of us are wrong. I’m sure many Republicans would now agree that that would be best for their party.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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