One one level, Thad Cochran’s success in attracting enough African-American “crossover” votes to subdue Chris McDaniel in Mississippi’s GOP SEN runoff was a strange and unexpected triumph for Republican “outreach” to minority voters. But the conservative backlash to this tactic, in MS and beyond, could do that cause a lot more damage in the long run, as I noted at Washington Monthly today:
A lot of us spent a good part of yesterday wondering what the basis might be of some Chris McDaniel challenge to the results in Mississippi on Tuesday night. Would Team McDaniel stick to investigating clear and provable violations of state law (e.g., Democratic primary voters being allowed to participate in the GOP runoff), or essentially try to criminalize “crossover” voting?
The answer is “both,” it appears, per comments McDaniel made last night on Mark Levin’s radio show:
We haven’t conceded and we’re not going to concede right now. We’re going to investigate.
Naturally sometimes it’s difficult to contest an election, obviously, but we do know that 35,000 Democrats crossed over. And we know many of those Democrats did vote in the Democratic primary just three weeks ago which makes it illegal.
We likewise know that we have a statute, a law in our state that says you cannot participate in a primary unless you intend to support that candidate. And we know good and well that these 35,000 democrats have no intention to do that. They’ll be voting for Travis Childers in November. We know that. They know that. And so that makes their actions illegal.
So we’re going to be fighting this.
Aside from the fact that this “intent to support” statute McDaniel cites is blatantly unenforceable and unconstitutional, I hope he understands that any inquiry into “crossover” voting in a state like Mississippi is going to be strictly about race. How do we know these are “crossover” voters, since there’s no party registration? Because they are African-Americans! Can’t have African-Americans voting in our White Primary, can we?
The “Republican Establishment” folk who are congratulating each other for engineering Cochran’s upset win should probably wake up and spend some time muzzling (or better yet, though they wouldn’t dare contradicting) McDaniel. Having Republicans debating whether or not they should be willing to accept minority votes is a long-term disaster. Reminding the world they’re now the segregated White Man’s Party of Mississippi isn’t the best idea, either.