What are McDaniel supporters to do on November 4?
By Ryan S. Walters
The midterm election is nearly upon us. Finally we are at the end of what has been a very raucous, but very memorable, campaign season for the state of Mississippi. And now that the State Supreme Court has ruled against Senator Chris McDaniel’s appeal, there is nothing left to do now but vote, or not.
With the election now little more than a week away, it’s the McDaniel supporters who have the choice to make: Do they hold their nose and cast a ballot for Cochran, despite his nasty race-baiting campaign? Do they pull the lever for Childers and kick Thad to the curb? Or do they simply boycott the election and stay home?
Let’s look at all the options.
Option 1: Vote for Thad Cochran
The first option, and the one pushed by the establishment, is for all McDaniel Republicans to let bygones be bygones and be nice little Republicans and support the nominee. Honestly, I’d rather work for a week at an Ebola treatment center without a HAZMAT suit than cast a vote for Thad Cochran. It’s simply unthinkable in my eyes, but certainly an option for many Republican voters, at least those curiously obsessed with taking back the US Senate from Harry Reid and the Democrats.
There are some serious flaws for conservatives who choose to take this route, however. One is the future of the seat. If Cochran is re-elected, many do not expect him to serve out his full six-year term. And if he does leave early, which may happen sometime after the 2015 state elections, Governor Bryant will most likely appoint his good buddy Congressman Gregg Harper to the seat, and Harper will be just another Cochran and we will have a much harder time defeating him in future races. So the eventual choice will be taken out of the hands of the people if Cochran is re-elected.
Perhaps the biggest reason is the conduct of the Cochran camp in the campaign to defeat Senator McDaniel, and for this reason it is my earnest hope that no McDaniel supporter casts a vote for Thad Cochran. To repeat what our side has said for months, Chris McDaniel, the choice of the Republican base in Mississippi, won on June 3. He won again on June 24 with nearly 60 percent of Republican voters. To win, Thad Cochran had to attract thousands of liberal Democrats and resorted to dirty, underhanded, sleazy tactics that are so beyond the pale that anyone who doesn’t recognize it as such has some serious moral issues. This day and age, you don’t call your political opponents racists and bigots, particularly fellow Republicans. You don’t use fear-mongering tactics, like the Democrats do, to win a party primary. And you especially don’t persuade the other side to support you with bribes and other goodies, which is another nasty, oft-used Democratic tactic.
So, to cast a vote for Cochran, if you are a McDaniel supporter, is to say that the uses of such tactics are acceptable. No right thinking, morally decent person can believe that. And Thad Cochran should not be rewarded for such behavior by receiving the votes of McDaniel supporters.
Option 2: Vote for Travis Childers
I have been hearing from many McDaniel supporters, and have read their posts on social media, who are vowing to vote for Childers on Election Day. This is a perfectly acceptable alternative for Republicans, to cast a protest vote against the establishment and teach them a lesson once and for all: don’t take conservatives for granted again or you will pay the price.
And why should conservative Republicans not vote for a Democrat? Apparently having Democrats select the nominee of the Republican Party is okay, so Republicans electing a Democrat to the Senate should be okay too.
To his credit, Childers considers himself a “blue dog” conservative Democrat, and has taken hard positions that are to the right of Thad Cochran on a few big issues. He backs a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which the freewheeling, spendthrift Cochran won’t support, and he signed the same pledge as Chris McDaniel promising never to support amnesty for illegals. And for the record, Cochran has voted for amnesty in the past and will do so again, just like his cronies at the liberal US Chamber of Commerce want him to. That’s why he won’t sign an anti-amnesty pledge. So a vote for Childers is not necessarily a liberal vote. In fact, it can be argued that Cochran is more liberal than Childers on several issues.
As for the whole re-taking the Senate argument, what does that matter? Does it really make any difference anymore? The last time Republicans had control of the Senate, as well as the House and the Presidency, it didn’t go so well for the conservative movement. In truth we were betrayed with more spending, more debt, and more government. It was so bad that the party was out in force apologizing to the people after the midterm debacle of 2006.
Does anyone really think it will be any different this time around? During this election cycle, the GOP has no platform, no agenda, and no ideas to speak of. Amazingly, they are not even running on repealing Obamacare anymore or against the administration plan to bring in as many as 35 million immigrants and put them on the fast track to citizenship. We simply can’t trust them to do anything about this lawless President. So far they’ve done nothing with control of the House and, without a new cast of true conservatives like Chris McDaniel, they won’t do anything with control of the Senate either.
And what about Harry Reid? He seems to be the personification of evil in the US Senate and a target for many Republican campaigns: Let’s rid the Senate of Majority Leader Harry Reid. Childers has promised not to vote for Reid for any leadership position, and although many might argue that he will surely go back on that promise, at least he has taken a public position on it. Has Cochran vowed not to support Mitch McConnell? Is McConnell really that much better than Reid? No, he’s not.
So the bottom line for a Childers vote is this: the only sure way to get rid of Thad Cochran and punish the establishment is to vote for Travis Childers. And in six years, we can replace Childers with a solid conservative.
Option 3: Vote for a Third Party
This is an option but not a very good one in my opinion. The only real choice here would be Shawn O’Hara of the Reform Party, who has run for just about every office for the past two decades, except for perhaps the Presidency. I’m not a big proponent of the so-called “wasted vote” argument but I think that certainly applies here. No good can come of a vote for O’Hara in this case.
Option 4: Write in McDaniel
While some McDanielites have pledged to vote for Childers, others are declaring their intention to write in McDaniel’s name as a protest vote once they are in the voting booth. These are voters who truly feel deprived that they can’t vote for the one they consider the real nominee of the party and seek a way to vote for him anyway.
But there are major problems with this idea. According to Mississippi election law expert John Pittman Hey, write-in votes for McDaniel will NOT be counted unless Thad Cochran is somehow removed from the ticket, either with a resignation or death. Then, and only then, would write-in votes for Chris McDaniel count. So any write-ins would be a truly wasted vote.
There are also stories cropping up on social media that Cochran folks, even Cochran-supporting Circuit Clerks, are telling McDaniel voters who won’t vote for Thad to go ahead and write-in McDaniel’s name. They know it won’t count and this should be reason enough not to do it.
However, if voters simply cannot vote for Cochran, Childers, or O’Hara, and must do something, then this is the best option. Don’t leave the line blank and under-vote, leaving your ballot dangerously exposed on the table for someone else to take. And as we have seen thus far, our votes are not as sacred as they once were.
Option 5: Stay Home
A lot of McDaniel supporters might just be so disgusted with the whole mess that they simply want to stay home and sit it out. That’s perfectly understandable and a perfectly legitimate way to protest. If you don’t vote, then you can’t be blamed for the disaster that awaits us.
The only problem with this approach is that it only deprives Cochran of one vote. Rather than stay home, if these voters would go to the polls, hold their nose and vote for Childers, it deprives Cochran of two votes because it takes one vote out of Cochran’s column and places it in the column for Childers. That’s a swing of two votes, which takes the biggest bite out of Cochran’s backside.
No matter your decision on Election Day, we must understand that the race is officially over on November 4. It shall pass into history.
And even though we fell short of our goal of unseating one of Washington’s biggest spenders, fighting as we did against the entire establishment machine, we should be proud of our efforts but with our vote we can still have a major impact on this US Senate race, and should.
Yet I must make myself very clear on one thing: these are my opinions alone and my effort here is not to try to tell McDaniel supporters how to vote. But judging by arguments on social media, McDaniel supporters are clearly divided on the issue of what to do.
I would simply ask that you weigh these options carefully, pray about it, and vote your conscience. And when November 5 dawns bright and early, McDaniel supporters need to come together once again to fight our common enemies.
So let us exercise our constitutional rights and our sacred duties of citizenship, then reunite on Guy Fawkes Day and begin a new push for better government.