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August 22, 2014

Editorial: Oh Miss! GOP Senate primary in Mississippi gets messier

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Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 7:00 pm

More than a week has passed since Mississippi’s Republican primary runoff contest for a U.S. Senate seat. Yet, many supporters of tea party challenger Chris McDaniel can’t let go of the loss to longtime incumbent Thad Cochran.

We might blame it on the heat in the Magnolia State or a certain desire to push politics further to the right among tea partiers. Whatever the reason, many conservative Mississippians aren’t ready to close this chapter.

“My opponent stole last week’s runoff election, and I’m not going down without a fight,” McDaniel recently told supporters.

Allegations against Cochran, his campaign team and his supporters are serious. They include vote-buying, manipulating African-American voters, violating the spirit of the Republican primary by encouraging Democrats to vote in the runoff and portraying McDaniel and his tea party comrades as racists. We should remember at this point that these charges aren’t fully verified.

Many of the complaints amount to beefs with standard operating procedure for campaigns. We don’t have to look very far to find outrageous examples of campaign messages that in the most generous definition abuse the truth and in the most extreme sense beat it to within an inch of its life. Likewise, our politics are full of instances where candidates tested the boundaries of legal behavior.

In Alabama, both special interests and politicians have made plenty of hay messing about in our state’s political process, setting up shadowy opposition groups to slime a candidate, quietly funnelling money to favored candidates and causes, encouraging partisans to cross party lines in open primaries and launching well-timed whisper campaigns against enemies.

None of this is as it should be — in Alabama, Mississippi or anywhere else — but it seems naive for McDaniel and his allies to suddenly cry foul.

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