The Mississippi GOP Senate race has already been a real … well, it’s been something. Tea Partyers are being arrested for breaking into nursing homes or accidentally getting locked inside government buildings where ballots happen to be held. Poor old Southern gentleman Sen. Thad Cochran has little idea what the hell is going on at any given moment and is relying on lobbyists to pitch pork to voters for him. For the most part, it’s been a quaint, entertaining tribute to old-timey Southern political high jinks. Unfortunately, the last moments of the primary campaign, which concludes in tomorrow’s runoff between Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, are also closely resembling old-timey Southern political high jinks — only now, the less entertaining parts. The race is getting mighty race-y. Polls of Republican voters indicate that McDaniel, the Tea Party challenger, is likely to pick off Cochran tomorrow. This has been the understood dynamic of the runoff from the get-go. The Cochran campaign and its well-funded backers, therefore, have been appealing to Democrats — which in Mississippi mostly means African-Americans — to cross over and vote for Cochran, who’s done a lot for the state over the years. The rule is that any Democrats who did not vote in the June 3 Democratic primary are eligible to vote in tomorrow’s GOP runoff. The Cochran campaign and affiliated PACs have gone about reaching out to black community leaders.
It’s unclear how well the Cochran strategy will work, but Team McDaniel is concerned and applying tangible, in-person resistance. The Senate Conservatives Fund, one of McDaniel’s biggest outside backers and a group that’s desperate for a Tea Party victory over an incumbent senator, has announced that it will be deploying “poll watchers” (!) to the state to monitor the activity of black voters. The New York Times reports:
The groups will deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats, Mr. Cuccinelli said. J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department official and conservative commentator who said he was advising the effort, described the watchers as “election observers,” mostly Mississippi residents, who will be trained to “observe whether the law is being followed.”
We’d like to reiterate what’s going on here: Conservatives will be training “poll watchers” in Mississippi to monitor the activity of black voters. It’s amazing, and sad, to see how quickly things have devolved into awful Mississippi stereotypes here. Just a couple of weeks back, Thad Cochran’s team decided, hey, we should try to appeal to black voters. And almost instantly we have a volunteer army of “election observers” descending upon black polling sites. The Times writes that the effort “evokes memories of the civil rights struggles of the state’s past.” No shit.