PERRY/McDaniel attacks Cochran
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:00 AM
State Sen. Chris McDaniel in Jones County on Thursday announced his candidacy as a Republican for U.S. Senate in 2014. Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran has not said whether he will seek another term. If he does, he will face a primary challenge from McDaniel.
McDaniel seeks to frame the campaign between himself, who opposes spending, and Cochran, the former Senate Appropriations Chairman who has funded billions of dollars of projects in Mississippi.
"The national debt is the greatest moral crisis of this generation," McDaniel told the crowd of 300-400 from the steps of the Ellisville Courthouse. "You do recognize that there is no national security interest more compelling, no interest that outlies the future of this country more compelling than that of the national debt. So let's go forth from this place making it perfectly clear that the era of big spending is over. The age of appropriations must end." McDaniel released a web video in which he called Mississippi "a welfare state."
Were Cochran to not seek reelection, McDaniel's campaign could lose its narrative. Other Republicans who might enter the race include Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, State Auditor (and McDaniel's fellow Jones Countian) Stacey Pickering, Third District Congressman Gregg Harper, or even Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves.
McDaniel told his assembled friends, Tea Party activists and Ron Paul supporters, that his was "not a movement or campaign that will be controlled by Washington insiders." Shortly afterward, three Washington insider groups announced support of McDaniel: Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund and The Madison Project.
The Club for Growth's PAC announced a television ad supporting McDaniel. The Madison Project launched an anti-Cochran web site asking, "What has [Cochran] accomplished period?"
What has Cochran accomplished?
Imagine Mississippi without Cochran's work and you'd see counties without hospitals, or without roads to get to where the hospitals are not. You'd see high fences around ghost towns where military bases were shuttered through BRAC because of missions Cochran wasn't there to secure.
There would be fewer police, those remaining would have less equipment. Our universities would be smaller with less research for our farmers and manufacturers. Wipe away Nissan and Toyota and those jobs. Also, wipe away much of the Gulf Coast.
Don't worry about the traffic where the interchanges are gone, because the development creating those jobs and residences would be gone, too. We would be proud that UMMC cured AIDS if only they had the research money and facilities to have done that. Also, let's get rid of many city and county buildings, and water and wastewater infrastructure. We would have more of one thing: local taxes would be higher.
McDaniel said in his speech, "Senator Cochran, I respect him. I grew up admiring him. You can not be a Mississippian and be a young person like me and not look at a man and in some respects want to emulate him."
True words, I'm sure, and appropriate. Cochran has done much to help McDaniel's neighbors and hometown.
A quick search of Cochran's work for McDaniel's hometown showed a $248,000 earmark in 2005 for the Ellisville Public Library where a lot of Jones County officials lined up for their photo at the grand opening. Did McDaniel oppose that funding? (I suspect, yes.) Or perhaps the $298,000 earmark for Jones County Junior College in 2005 and another $200,000 for JCJC in 2010. McDaniel's parents worked at JCJC and it is a major economic generator in Jones County.
Does McDaniel oppose major projects like $3.2 million for Highway 29? I expect the McDaniel for Senate bus will frequently utilize Laurel's reformed "S curve" on Highway 59 which required over $30 million in federal funds and included a $26 million contract to Tanner Construction Company in Ellisville.
Cochran carved out an instruction that FEMA would compensate Jones County for unreimbursed costs related to Hurricane Katrina debris removal.
Cochran was a deciding force behind General Electric's aviation manufacturing plant in Ellisville: an investment of $56 million to create 250 new high-tech jobs by 2016.
Cochran didn't wake up one morning and say, "I want to spend money on Ellisville and I've got money to burn." No, these are local projects requested by local leaders who share in their success and, if a target for McDaniel's campaign, should share in the criticism.
I have little doubt McDaniel is sincere. Were he elected, he would tell Mississippi's mayors, supervisors, sheriffs, hospitals, schools, libraries, universities and road builders, "no" - he would not help them with funding. Nor would he have the ability to help if he wanted. Cochran has that ability and has proved it whenever Mississippi, or a small town like McDaniel's Ellisville, has been in need.
A campaign against Cochran based on federal funding should be honest and courageous enough to tell Mississippi what it will lose as a result of change.
Brian Perry is a columnist for the Madison County Journal and a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at email@example.com or @CapstonePerry on Twitter.