Pender: McDaniel Wins One, Bryant Gets Tea Party Groove Back

By Geoff Pender, Clarion Ledger, May 2, 2015

Gov. Phil Bryant’s recent veto of a Common Core bill marked a rare victory for state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who’d been the patron saint of lost tea party and conservative causes.

It also helped Bryant get his tea party groove back. He’s getting an ’attaboy from conservatives who were upset he backed incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran over McDaniel in the Great Republican Mudfest last year.

The veto was an election-year poke in the eye for Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, with whom fellow Republicans Bryant and McDaniel are often at odds. Reeves had championed the Common Core bill, ironically, to try to gain some tea party-conservative creds himself.

Bryant, Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn had declared a fatwa against the Common Core education standards, after state education officials had worked for years and spent millions to implement them. But they — Reeves and Gunn in particular — were late to the party. McDaniel and his supporters had been anti-Common Core before it was cool.

Many conservatives and libertati saw the “anti-Common Core” bill — approved by 93 of 96 Republicans in the Legislature — as not really anti-Common Core, just “political cover.” They complained it just created a commission to study state education standards and make recommendations. After weeks of consideration, Bryant smacked it with his veto stamp.

I had a pretty lengthy conversation with McDaniel after Bryant’s veto, and he sounded pumped. He was lovin’ on the governor, and appeared to forget his loyalists were carrying “Primary Phil in 2015” signs last summer at the Neshoba County Fair.

“No, I never questioned (Bryant’s) conservative credentials,” McDaniel said. “Phil is instinctively and intuitively a conservative, and this veto of (the Common Core bill) is evidence. Phil is my friend … Politics has its place, but it shouldn’t come between friends.”


And does McDaniel consider Bryant’s veto a victory for the “McGOP?” In the words of his friend Sarah Palin, you betcha.

“This is a major victory for conservatives,” McDaniel said. He said the mobilization of “various factions of the conservative movement,” including “Common Core mothers” (that would be a cool name for a band) is an example of what his new United Conservatives Fund PAC can do when it rallies the troops.

“We have the organization now to do that, as a result of the 2014 Senate campaign,” McDaniel said.

It had appeared McDaniel’s sphere of influence in state Republican politics had shrunk. The national tea party groups that buoyed him had gone home and taken their checkbooks, and McDaniel’s long, drawn-out legal challenge of the race he lost to Cochran had appeared to take some of the shine off his brand. His political foe Reeves was even trying to horn in on the anti-Common Core movement.

But McDaniel helped lead the charge — petitions, social media, ringing the governor’s phones off the hook — urging Bryant to veto the bill. McDaniel said he met with Bryant prior to the veto and discussed the matter. He called Bryant’s decision “a principled stand against Common Core.”

It’s the first legislative/public policy victory McDaniel’s been able to claim in quite a while. Of many legislative bills he authored this year, the only one that passed was commending the Laurel High football team. Reeves has had him in time-out in the Senate.

A political operative not too long ago told me they had never seen polling numbers so strong as those against Common Core among Mississippi Republicans.

It’s being viewed as a stalking horse for the Obama Administration to take over states’ public education, and it’s already become a major issue for 2016 presidential politics.

In 2015 Mississippi Republican politics, it’s not just whether you’re against Common Core, but whether you’re really against Common Core. McDaniel was ahead of the curve on this GOP issue.



  1. Totally AGAINST Common Core. Nationalized Education is UN-American—-totally UN-American. It must be turned back ASAP.

  2. William Smith says:

    From a Blog I wrote about Baltimore:

    Perhaps Mississippi, where I have spent more of my life than any other state, can illustrate the question. Mississippi has a population of almost 3 million with 37% black. The Black public school population is 51%. The percentage of Black males graduating from high school is 51%. Bureaucracies probably contribute. Teachers’ unions do not. So what can be done to educate Mississippi’s largely poor black children?

    Recently what has occupied some White politicians and (mostly) White parents is Common Core. A great campaign was carried on to convince the Governor to veto a bill that that had passed both Houses of the Legislature that these politicians and parents felt did not do the job of abolishing Common Core and telling the state Superintendent of Education what to do. The Governor vetoed the bill, and this is tauted as a great victory for education in Mississippi. (I have read some of both sides on Common Core and don’t consider myself to have a dog in this fight.) But my question is, What are you going to do about the children in the 100% Black public schools in the Delta or the 97.5% Black Jackson city schools? What is it that they need to learn? How are we going effectively to teach it to them? Besides getting rid of Common Core (or as some want to do getting rid altogether of federal aid to education), what are you going to do to educate the children? To improve the quality and effectiveness of education?

    • Reach out and begin creating credible charter schools to meet the needs of those students and the parents who wish to see their children receive a quality education.

  3. jinger lillies says:

    What has changed? Poor blacks now have the same educational opportunities that all poor people have. School is free….. there are a lot of poor minorities that have become attorneys, docs, and teachers. I think the many teachers are of less caliber….just not the caliber they used to be. You can’t tell the difference between a “teacher” and a student any more by the way many of them dress or act. If they want to be respectedin the classroom, start acting like a teacher. Increased salaries does not result in better teachers just higher paid idiots-same as some of our govt officials.

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