Mississippi Tea Party nut’s last hurrah: Make me the nominee, because of the Consitution

The defeated Mississippi Senate challenger has taken his case to the courts, and remains as laughable as ever

Topics: 2014 elections, Chris McDaniel, Mississippi, Thad Cochran, courts, election law, primaries, Editor's Picks, Republicans, GOP,

Mississippi Tea Party nut's last hurrah: Make me the nominee, because of the ConsitutionChris McDaniel (Credit: AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

Defeated Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, aka America’s No. 1 source of lingering political entertainment, has submitted his challenge of the June 24 GOP runoff results to the courts. This was his only remaining option, as the Mississippi GOP took one quick look at his complaint and said, uhh, not our problem, and scrammed.

The complaint filed yesterday requests an immediate injunction of Sen. Thad Cochran’s certification as the Republican Party Senate nominee and ballot placement “until such time as this Complaint can be heard and the relief requested herein granted and accomplished.”

And the “relief requested herein,” just as it was in the original complaint filed to the state party earlier this month, is totally hilarious and probably not likely to sway a judge. McDaniel’s team once again is requesting that some counties where McDaniel did badly be voided and McDaniel named the nominee.

McDaniel is probably (hopefully?) aware that this legal challenge is ridiculously weak, and so he’s using it as an opportunity to harden his following for a lucrative tour on the wingnut welfare circuit. And so he invokes the Constitution as grounds for why he actually, uh, won the Republican primary, even though he lost it, having secured fewer votes than his opponent. He essentially argues that open primaries — in Mississippi’s case, there’s no party registration so anyone can vote in any party’s primary — are unconstitutional. Therefore Thad Cochran’s strategy of reaching out to Democratic and African-American voters was a violation of Mississippi Republicans’ constitutional rights. Hoo boy:

The First Amendment protects the freedom to join together in furtherance of common political beliefs, which necessarily presupposes the freedom to identify the people who constitution the association, and to limit the association to those people. The right to association includes the right not to associate. In no area is the political association’s First Amendment right to not associate more important than in the process of selecting its nominee.

In other words, even though Mississippi party registration law is what it is … well, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and stuff would not approve of letting these illegal Democrat Party people vote in a Republican primary.

As election law professor Rick Hasen explains, it’s a little too late (as in, weeks and weeks after the primary) to be bringing up these objections. Usually “before the primary” is a good time to bring up complaints about the rules governing a primary:

McDaniel seems to be saying that the Mississippi Republican Party’s right to a closed primary was violated because Democrats got to vote in the Republican primary. If McDaniel was able to bring suit on behalf of the Republican Party, he would likely be able to convince a court to close the Republican primary. Or, if McDaniel as a member of the state’s legislature got a bill passed to close the primaries (and the Republican party did not object), he could get a closed primary that way too.

But McDaniel is not asking for either of these. He’s saying the Mississippi Republican Party’s rights were violated when Democrats voted in the primary. But the rules, as they had been interpreted for decades by the attorney general of the state allowed people from either party to vote in the party primary – unless a voter walked in to the polling and declared that she did not have an intent to vote for the party’s nominee in the general election. The SOS and AG just before the election confirmed this understanding of Mississippi law.

It is too late now for McDaniel to come in and say that the rules should have been different. This issue was known before the election. He did not challenge those rules. it would be quite unfair to go in and claim after the election that the rules were unfair when there was ample opportunity to challenge them before.

After establishing that the First Amendment says that black votes for Thad Cochran don’t count, The McDaniel team spells out its simple remedy: Don’t count Hinds County’s returns, because the whole process there was an illegal mess as evidenced by the fact that Cochran got a lot of votes.

By failing to enforce Mississippi law intended to prevent such ill effects… the Republican party executive committees have allowed (or fostered) vote fraud and irregularities to vitiate the results of the June 24 primary runoff election. The extensive vote fraud, negligence and irregularities in some counties, specifically including Hinds County, requires that the results from those counties be removed from the count so as not to contaminate all other county election results.

Back to that Constitution thing — you know what doesn’t sound very constitutional? Selectively throwing out the entire results of one or a few counties where one candidate did very poorly in order to overturn the results of an election. Chris McDaniel lost by 11,000 votes in Hinds County, but he still earned about 7,000 votes there. Does he think that those 7,000 votes he got weren’t the real deal, and can just be thrown away?

We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that once this whole process is finished, Chris McDaniel will remain the not-nominee for U.S. Senate.

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...