State legislator Chris McDaniel has become a Tea Party hero, trying to wrest the Republican nomination from Sen. Thad Cochran. His cause has led him to be a conservative celebrity.
Defeated by 6,700 votes, he has claimed that a number of African Americans voted illegally, crossing over to the Republican runoff after having voted in the Democratic Primary.
It turns out that McDaniel may know a little something about voting in Democratic primaries.
According to TPM (TalkingPointsMemo), McDaniel voted in the 2003 Democratic Primary. “The conservative candidate running against Sen. Thad Cochran…voted as a Democrat in Mississippi’s state primary in 2003, according to records obtained by the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. The newspaper reported that voting records from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office show that state Sen. Chris McDaniel voted in the Democratic primary in 2003. He seems to not have voted in high profile Republican elections including the 2008 presidential primary and 2008 congressional primary.”
McDaniel’s initial response was to deny that he ever voted in a Democratic Primary. “‘I have never voted in a Democratic primary,’ McDaniel told the Clarion-Ledger,” according to TPM.
When pressed with evidence from the Secretary of State, McDaniel went on to accuse Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, with digging up the evidence.
But regardless of where it came from, it shows that he voted in Democratic primaries and shunned GOP primaries, even as recent as the 2008 election.
Later, a McDaniel spokesman admitted he voted in the 2003 Democratic Primary, according to TPM “to have a choice in local competitive elections.”
In that 2003 Mississippi Democratic Primary, Governor Ronnie Musgrove, who later ran on the ticket with Obama in 2008 for a U.S. Senate seat, was renominated with more than 75 percent of the vote, a result not usually considered competitive. Moreover, those GOP Primaries that McDaniel skipped in 2008 were, indeed, competitive.
Now, as McDaniel calls himself the true conservative candidate, attacking a Republican Senator, threatening to tear apart the state’s GOP by dragging out the runoff battle, allowing former Rep. Travis Childers to move into a tie with Cochran, who could pull an election stunner. Even if he wins, his incendiary comments, resembling those of conservatives who cost the GOP Senate in 2012, and hurt the party in the budget negotiations, will give plenty of ammunition in other races and policy battles.
So is McDaniel secretly a Democrat, the way South Carolina Democrat Alvin Greene was accused of being planted by Republicans in 2010 to guarantee Jim DeMint’s reelection? It’s fair question to ask.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.