06.23.2014 1

Big Government Stakes are High in Mississippi Run-Off

mcdaniel-cochranBy Rick Manning

Tuesday in Mississippi marks the next faceoff between a Tea Party challenger and an entrenched, out of touch Republican incumbent.

The race features thirty six year Senator Thad Cochran against state Senator Chris McDaniel, and has been fraught with twists and turns suitable to a political suspense pulp novel, only this is real life with real consequences.

Cochran was stunned to find himself in a competitive race for the Republican Party nomination after being the first Republican elected in the state in just under 100 years. Cochrane’s early gaffes included a failure to be aware that the “tea party” even existed.  After Cochrane and McDaniel were forced into a three week run-off, the campaign has been marked by one bizarre event after another.

While the political campaign has been even more bizarre than most with break-ins, arrests, seemingly untoward living arrangements between the Senator and a staff person, the use of illegal walking around money and a series of downright weird gaffes by the incumbent, the race ultimately comes down to competing visions for the nation.

Incumbent Cochran is an unabashed pork barrel politician whose service on the Senate Appropriations Committee has netted the state of Mississippi a treasure trove of federal government largesse.  Chris McDaniel has attacked this free spending approach pointing to our nation’s precarious fiscal situation and the need to make tough cuts to balance the budget.

Cochran is arguing that federal government spending is virtuous, not even attempting to pretend that he is anything other than a big spending D.C. liberal.   This makes this more than a single political race, and turns it into a proxy battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

Should Cochran prevail, the big money interests in D.C. will point to his election as proof that Washington can return to its free spending ways with little political repercussion.   They will argue that if big government sells in Mississippi, it will sell anywhere, and the dam that is currently restraining the growth of government will be breached.

As mundane as a political campaign far away in a state most people have never visited might seem, those who care about limited government should be on high alert.  Win or lose, Thad Cochran’s desperate run for a seventh term in the Senate signals a new boldness amongst the big business community to openly fight for the grants and tax breaks that have become part of their life blood.

In Mississippi America will learn if the Tea Party has turned the corner in the fight to stop runaway spending, or if the corporate and government welfare state has become so ingrained that those who are on the take from government can honestly claim a voting majority over those who don’t.

And that is why the Senate Republican primary run-off election in Mississippi is about more than just another 76 year old Senator trying to hang on for one last six year term.  It is truly about the future direction of the nation.

Rick Manning is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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