“What a shame to have to ride Donald Trump’s coattails because he doesn’t have a record of his own.” So said Senator Chris McDaniel about Roger Wicker when he announced his candidacy for US Senate last week.
And thus far McDaniel’s assessment of Wicker’s campaign is spot on, as Wicker has done little but snuggle up close to Trump while centering his fire on McDaniel’s supposed dislike of the President, lies we have already debunked in two recent articles.
Given Wicker’s campaign strategy, this week’s news of a new Super PAC – the Mississippi Victory Fund – seems to be a bit of a head-scratcher, until you understand who these people really are. The PAC is headed by former State Senator Merle Flowers but the address listed on FEC filings is the same as Capitol Resources, the lobbying firm of Henry Barbour in Jackson.
So why would this seem so puzzling of a move? Because in 2016 Henry Barbour was a member in good standing of the “Never Trump” movement and said some things that angered Trump. So much for Wicker being in lockstep with Trump, for Flowers may be the nominal head of the PAC while Barbour will actually be calling the shots for the PAC. Recall in 2014, Barbour ran a Super PAC for Thad Cochran.
Henry Barbour was an early backer of former Texas governor Rick Perry, in 2015, but that presidential campaign disintegrated before it ever got off the ground, and a lot of it had to do with Barbour’s involvement. Then it all exploded on the pad before liftoff.
As the primaries began in January, Barbour would not back the two most conservative candidates and leaders of the pack. “Whoever is not named Trump and not named Cruz that looks strong out of both Iowa and New Hampshire, we should consolidate around,” he said. An angered Trump struck back, but he first mistakenly attributed them to Haley not Henry.
As the primary season unfolded, Barbour grew frustrated that many GOP candidates, like Rubio, Bush, and Kasich, were beating up on each other rather than attacking Trump and Cruz. “Why is Right to Rise [Bush’s PAC] spending all this money on somebody who can beat Hillary? Meanwhile, Trump and Cruz go mostly unscathed,” he told the New York Times. He even tried to get Mike Huckabee to attack Ted Cruz, vowing the raise money for a Super PAC to do just that, but he had few takers.
In a February CNN interview, Barbour, in order to stop Trump and Cruz, threw his support behind Marco Rubio, whom he called “the most conservative candidate in the race who can win the general election,” joining stalwart “conservatives” Tim Pawlenty, Bob Dole, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Flake, and Thom Tillis. CNN’s host, Alisyn Camerota, seemed surprised at the move, noting that Barbour’s fellow endorsers were all “establishment figures like yourself” in what is a very anti-establishment atmosphere.
By May, when the nomination was coming into focus, Barbour was still trashing Trump and vowing not to support him. “My expectation has been that I would support the Republican nominee, but I can’t support somebody who would divide the country by race. That’s unacceptable to me and I think unacceptable to most Americans. And so it would make it very hard for me.”
This is the same guy, mind you, that helped fund the race-baiting campaign directed at Chris McDaniel in June 2014, which one radio station manager in Jackson called “some of the worst race-baiting ads I’ve ever seen in this business. Really bad stuff.”
At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, Barbour was still seeking a way to block Trump from getting the nomination, saying that he “doesn’t deserve to be president.” As the plans were laid to change the rules at the RNC to allow delegates to vote for whomever they chose, Barbour seemed to encourage it. “There could be a floor fight over a minority report. I don’t think a minority report is all that likely, but people have every right to sign a minority report and people have every right to vote against the rules package coming out of the rules committee.” Of course the plan failed and Trump won the nomination, then the general election, proving the establishment world, including Henry Barbour, wrong.
This latest Wicker campaign strategy, the use of “Never Trump” club member Henry Barbour, shows us the real character of Roger Wicker – He’s unprincipled and will use any means necessary, just as the establishment did in 2014, to win the race against conservative reformer Chris McDaniel.