Issue #271

Mississippi primary fight is one of geography and ideology

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)

For all of the Tea Party’s struggles this year, it has a real chance to unseat an incumbent Republican in the Mississippi Republican primary Tuesday. Thad Cochran, the first Republican senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction, is facing a strong challenge from Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party-backed state senator. The most recent—if imperfect—polls show a tight race, even though McDaniel’s campaign has been dogged by an unusual scandal: Four McDaniel supporters were arrested in a case in which one of them was accused of entering the nursing home where Cochran’s wife is being treated for dementia and of taking pictures of her.  A statewide Tea Party-versus-establishment fight might seem new in Mississippi, but it is only the most recent duel in an ancient struggle between the Southern establishment and populist, anti-establishment voters. White Southern politics—and therefore the politics of today’s Republican Party in the South—has long been divided along geographic lines. New York Times, 6-2-14.

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