The Spectacle Blog

Karl Rove Silent on Mississippi Race Tactics

By on 6.26.14 | 12:27PM

This is amazing.

This morning in the Wall Street Journal, former Bush aide Karl Rove writes a column that includes the following on the Mississippi Senate race:

Mississippi's Sen. Thad Cochran pulled off a difficult and surprising win Tuesday night, and he has the state's open primary law to thank for it. In the June 3 primary, Mr. Cochran trailed tea party favorite Chris McDaniel by 1,386 votes or 0.5% of the 313,443 votes cast. This week, he beat Mr. McDaniel, a state senator, by 6,373 votes or 1.6% of 374,893 votes.

Turnout was up in the runoff, which last happened in a Senate race 30 years ago. The six-term senator's victory was due to a strategy by his campaign and the support of the Mississippi Conservatives super PAC led by GOP national committeeman Henry Barbour and his uncle, the very popular former Gov. Haley Barbour. They aimed to turn out for the second-round Republicans who did not vote in the primary and bring out Mississippians, including Democrats, who had not voted in either party's primary and thus could vote in the runoff.

These organizational efforts paid off, with turnout increasing in counties Mr. Cochran carried in the first round at about twice the rate as turnout rose in counties Mr. McDaniel won. (Full disclosure: I donated to Mr. Cochran's campaign and the super PAC that I help, American Crossroads, donated to Mississippi Conservatives in the primary and runoff.)

Some new runoff voters were blacks drawn to the polls by an anti-tea-party message, others were Republicans who had taken the first round for granted, believing that Mr. Cochran would win handily. Mr. McDaniel cannot complain about crossover voting since he participated in the 2003 Democratic primary.

This political near-death experience for Mr. Cochran should not obscure truths that Republican officeholders ignore at their peril. Members of Congress had better stay connected to the politics of their state or district if they hope to win re-election.

Say again? Cochran won because of “a strategy” that “aimed to…bring out Mississippians, including Democrats, who had not voted in either party's primary and thus could vote in the runoff.” If that’s all this were, the Cochran victory might go down better. But, of course, that’s not all that went on here.

Incredibly, Karl Rove has ignored the blatantly obvious chicanery that is the subject of discussion across the conservative media. To wit, as mentioned in my column nearby, the “strategy” to get Democrats to vote for Cochran was not some uplifting, Reagan-style vision of a city on a hill. Bush-style compassionate conservatism this was not. The bald fact here is that fliers and robocalls appealing to the worst racist instincts imaginable were used to push Cochran over the top. Put another way, these campaign materials targeted conservative Republicans with the absolute worst line of leftist bilge: that the Republican Party is racist.

And what does Mr. Rove have to say about this? Is there a condemnation? A demand for an investigation by the GOP as to who paid for this? Who authorized it?

Mr. Rove, shamefully, says nothing. 

Not good. Not good at all.

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