February 28th, Mississippi Democrat, Travis Childers annouced that he was entering the 2014 Senate race. The incumbant is 76-year-old Thad "The Shrimp" Cochran.
Cochran has more than Childers to contend with! The Tea Party has launched a lethal challenger in 41-year-old Chris McDaniel. McDaniel's message is simple: "Pork barrel politics" is not the future.
Historically, lawmakers from poor states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and West Virginia have convinced their people that the "gracious hand of Washington" was their salvation. As Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear put it, "we receive two dollars
from Washington for every one dollar we send to Washington." Jay Rockefeller has echoed the same sentiments in West Virginia. Ditto for Bill Clinton when Governor of Arkansas.
Cochran represents the old style Southern politician. The objective was to siphon federal money into state coffers. The more, the better! Who could find fault with this!
I recall in 1980 seeing a bumper sticker while driving in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. In bold letters it screamed, "Tax Mississippi Free!" In other words, let's find a way to generate revenue here at home. Federal money always comes with strings attached.
At that time, the rage was legalized casino gambling. When the idea was first introduced, it seemed preposterous. Today it is reality.
Growing up in Arkansas, the slogan was "Thank God for Mississippi, because if it were not for Mississippi, we would be 50th; instead of 49th!" Arkansans were constantly reminded by cagy career politicians, John McClellan, Bill Fulbright and Wilbur Mills
that their meager prosperity was the fruit of the "gracious hand" of Washington.
Bill Clinton represented the next generation of "gracious handers." Attending American University on a Fulright fellowship, he exceeded all hopes and expectations of his mentors. Today, Bill resides in New York City, a living legend of the small town boy who conquered the world. Surprisingly, however, the state didn't begin to take off until Mike Huckabee took over.
Chris McDaniel is not promising how much Washington "pork" he can procure for the Magnolia state. He is talking about the 10th amendment. He is stressing the positives of Mississippi's vast oil and natural gas reserves, it's timber and great farmland. His message is simple and to the point. "We can run our state better from Mississippi than bureaucrats can run it from Washington, D.C."
Unlike Fulbright, Thad Cochran is not a liberal Democrat! He loves his state and has worked within the system to better the lives of Mississippians. His camp maintains the postion that if Republicans regain the Senate, Thad will be in position to take over chairmanship of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee. In short, he will be able to "get more stuff" for Mississippi!
From the Tea Party point of view, this thinking is "what's wrong with Washington." More spending, more chits, more government! McDaniel's response is "less government, less interference and more local control" are excellent trade-offs.
Where Clinton's Arkansas was all about procuring the maximum help from Washington, Huckabee turned to the people of Arkansas. The farmers were asked to increase their yields of rice and soy beans because eager buyers were waiting in China, Japan and South Korea. The overnight business boom of Washington and Benton Counties in the Northwest corner of the state, now rivals Clinton's career achievements!
Still, conservatives must be patient. As one Rick Perry supporter noted, "it took years to fall into this way of thinking. It will take time to fall out of it."
In other words, "gradual evolution." It is time to replace Thad Cochran with Chris McDaniel. Because, Mississippi isn't going to elect Travis Childers, or any Democrat for that matter.
If it would work in Mississippi, why not in Kentucky?
Two reasons: Unlike Mississippi, Kentucky still has a Democrat Party. True, Barack Obama received only 37% of the vote. But, we must remember that Bill Clinton won this state in both '92 and '96. Like Arkansas, many of the old "courthouse" Democrats have died or are dying out. As with Arkansas, they are being replaced by conservative newcomers from Midwestern states.
Yet, while Democrat numbers dwindle in Arkansas and Kentucky, the machinery remains in place. While the Democrat brand is slightly tainted, the bureacracy remains indefinitely "blue!"
DNC National thought that Attorney General, Jack Conway represented the ultimate opportunity to place a "true believer" in an increasingly "red" state. The PAC money flowed in to the Bluegrass state. Conway spent a good deal of time on the West Coast cultivating the friends of Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman.
Fortunately for Kentuckians, his Republican opponent, Rand Paul was well funded. Through extensive television penetration, Conway's ideology was revealed. Paul defeated him going away. From the defeat, Democrats learned that a well funded opponent can and will take a campaign from "image to ideology."
In many ways, Mitch McConnell mirrors Thad Cochran. He hasn't been in Washington quite as long as Cochran, but he has likely made more enemies. And, unlike Mississippi, Democrats have a potent party machine in Kentucky. Plus, they have an attractive "true believer" in 35-year-old, Allison Lundgren Grimes, currently serving as Secretary of State.
As with Cochran, the Tea Party has decided that Mitch must go. Matt Bevin has emerged as as McConnell's replacement. Two differences should be noted. The first is money. Where is Bevin's money coming from and would it continue to flow in a general election?
The second is media. The Louisville Courier Journel and the Lexington Herald Leader are arguably two of the most Liberal Newspapers in America. Both are overwhelming anti-McConnell. They will manufacturer a dozen or more subtle angles in endorsing Hillary Clinton Disciple, Allison Lundgren Grimes.
There are recent polls showing Grimes currently in a "deal heat" with McConnell. Never mind that 18% of the sample came from Louisville liberal, John Yarmouth's district, 15% came from Franklin County and 17% came from Fayette County. Interestingly enough, half of the samples came from three of only four counties won by Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential election...
Democrats acknowledge that McConnell has a massive war chest. Big enough to define Allison Lundgren Grimes in the manner that Jack Conway was defined: "a rubber stamp for the Obama Adminstration's agenda." The hope is, the Tea Party ideologues will become so focused on "ditching Mitch," that they will lose sight of the main Republican priority of 2014: To regain a Senate majority.
Kentuckians are constantly reminded by the state's entrenched Democrat bureaucracy, "for every dollar we send to Washington, two we receive." What they fail to mention is "the vast mineral wealth" that Kentucky possessses. Coal, Oil, Natural Gas are in abundance.
Kentucky is also the geographic center of the Eastern United States. The rivers that connect the state are impressive. The state likewise has great agricultural resources. Last but not least, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet.
The question becomes, "why" is Kentucky so poor? In reality, it should be one of the more prosperous states. As Commissioner of Agriculture, John Comer pointed out, "the state could have canneries throughout the state. But FDA regulations make it difficult, too expensive."
Berea based MACED has hired Administrators from Boston and New York. They have then placed these "all knowing experts" in front of the locals in an effort to convince them that "departure from the coal" business is in everyones' best interest."
Especially when there are government entitlements such as Food Stamps and Obamacare available.
Mitch McConnell, unlike Thad Cochran has been forced to deal with both an entrenched Democrat bureacracy and hostile media. While he reflects the old "siphon our share of the D.C. money into our state," his time for departure is not yet upon us. We must remember that Mitch came in under Ronald Reagan's watch. Cochern took the oath the same year Jimmy Carter did.
In a general election, McDaniel will beat Childers by fifteen points. If this were 2024, the same verdict would await Allison Lundgren Grimes at the hand of Matt Bevin.
Unfortunately for Republicans, Kentucky in 2014 is not Mississippi in 2014. Unlike Mississippi, Democrats could steal a win if Grimes is allowed to face Bevin and not McConnell in the general election.
In essence, "patience" must be the watchword, in states such as Kentucky. To get to where Mississippi is, there must first be a grassroots campaign to win both houses of the Legislature. Arkansas was successful in doing this. Kentucky and West Virginia should be next.
Many House and Senate Democrats in both states are "D.I.N.O.s"(Democrats in name only). These "D.I.N.O.s" must be persuaded to change party affiliation. If it worked in Arkansas and Mississippi, it can work in Kentucky and West Virginia.
We must also find a way to replace Democrats with Republicans in state bureaucracies. Former Kentucky Govenor, Ernie Fletcher attempted to do this. His downfall came with immature staffers and their lack of discretion. Unfortunately, this part of the riddle may take years to remedy.
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