Wednesday, June 18, 2014 1:00 PM
Chris McDaniel, his campaign and supporters have criticized Thad Cochran's appeal to traditional Democrats, particularly African-American voters. But in Mississippi's open primary, anyone can vote in either primary. Mr. McDaniel should know that. According to records from the Mississippi Secretary of State, he voted in the Democratic primary in 2003.
For years, the Democratic primary was where all the action occurred and it was common for self-identified Republicans to vote in that primary to make a decision on the final outcome of the race. Today in Mississippi, the action is in the Republican Primary, so no one should be surprised (or outraged) that Mississippians who want to impact the future of their state decide to participate in the Republican Primary. That should be good news for the GOP.
The Republican Party should want to grow beyond its traditionally white base; in fact, it must if it wants to remain a viable party. There are African-Americans who share Republican values. They should be welcomed and courted by Republicans, not used as a political scare tactic.
Ironically for the GOP, the candidate in Mississippi best able to expand the party and attract African-American voters is also the GOP's longest-serving elected official, Thad Cochran. Voters of all races know Cochran has represented all of Mississippi's population honorably and admirably. (Even many McDaniel supporters agree, but they think it is time for a change.) Cochran doesn't race-bait. He isn't inflammatory. But some Republicans want an inflammatory senator, and they see that in Chris McDaniel.
Mississippi needs a senator who represents our conservative values and who can also represent everyone. That person is Thad Cochran.
Having Democrats vote for a Republican is not a bad thing. Ronald Reagan benefited from such a phenomenon. "Reagan Democrats" changed the face of American politics for a generation. Reagan, a former Democrat himself, for many Republicans represents the "gold standard" of being both conservative and effective.
We need both conservative and effective Republicans in Mississippi. And we don't need to forego the "effective" part because our incumbent conservative doesn't pass the tea party litmus test of purity.