Elections bring out the best and worst of people. Sadly, this years Republican primary for Senate in Mississippi brought out the worst. From early on in the race, 76-year-old incumbent Thad Cochran had the backing of the GOP establishment. When Mississippi state Senator Chris McDaniel came on the scene, he instantly gained the support of the Tea Party. McDaniel’s chief goal for his campaign was to shake up the Republican establishment, and ensure “hope for the future is based on reclaiming the promise of freedom and liberty.”
The campaign was dirty from the beginning. Republicans attempted to smear Chris McDaniel’s character at every turn, and even members of the Tea Party joined in on the tactics by attempting to obtain pictures of Senator Cochran’s ailing wife, Rose, who suffers from dementia and lives in a nursing home. After the June 3rd primary which resulted in the June 24th runoff between Cochran and McDaniel’s, the dysfunction increased.
Flyers and robocalls surfaced in the hours after the election results were final accusing Chris McDaniel of being a racist, and encouraging Democrats to get out an vote in the June 24th Republican runoff for Thad Cochran. Although the source of the anti-McDaniel material is unknown, many believe that the GOP establishment and possibly even Sen. Cochran’s own campaign played a role in their distribution.
As stories of McDaniel’s loss were finally starting to abate, news broke Friday morning that Mark Mayfield, Vice Chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, had committed suicide in the wake of the election. In April, Mayfield was accused of conspiring with a group of three other people to obtain footage of Rose Cochran in order to use it in a political ad against the Senator. A source told the Clarion Ledger that Mayfield died Friday from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
It is truly heart breaking that people on both the establishment and Tea Party sides allowed an election to go this far. There is nothing wrong with having a thorough primary process, but when we allow winning to blur our common sense understanding of what is right and what is wrong, we have a problem.