Lots at stake with recall challenge

Published 12:09 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mississippi’s Republican Party is a microcosm of the national party, struggling within to define itself.

That struggle is nothing new, and a definition that works for all who call themselves conservative doesn’t seem anywhere in sight — within our nation or our state.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel’s contentious challenge of Mississippi’s long-time U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran was a shock to some and brought home just how divided the party of Reagan really is here.

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McDaniel, who was supported by those known as tea party Republicans, bested Cochran in June’s primary election, but not by enough votes to avoid a runoff, which brought out more voters and a Cochran victory by 7,667 votes.

On Monday, McDaniel officially presented a challenge to the state GOP executive committee over the runoff’s results. A spokesman said McDaniel supporters have isolated approximately 9,500 votes they call irregular, 3,500 they say were cast by voters who typically vote with the Democratic Party and 2,275 absentee ballots allegedly cast improperly.

It would behoove the Mississippi GOP to move quickly on investigating McDaniel’s claims and rendering its decision about the viability of the runoff election.

As Adams County Republican Party Chair Sue Stedman said Monday, it’s time to move on. McDaniel has every right to contest the election, and his party should investigate his claims. But they should do so quickly.

The credibility of the state Republican Party hangs in the balance, as it does in many states in our nation.

In Mississippi, that division, if Republicans who supported McDaniel get angry enough, could mean a Red State U.S. Senate seat could become vulnerable.

It seems the state’s Republicans ultimately may need to decide just how important it is to them to send a conservative from Mississippi to the U.S. Senate in Washington.

If Mississippi’s Republicans fail to unite before November’s general election, that conservative seat may well be in jeopardy.