Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef suggested that state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s (R-MS) campaign strategy has largely been aimed at dividing the state Republican party, and he may face an uphill battle in the general election if he wins.
Nosef made the remarks in an interview with TPM on Tuesday, another sign that that the bloody Republican primary has left dents in Mississippi GOP.
“In Chris McDaniel’s case, his campaign seems — essentially in Mississippi — to divide Republicans up into groups, establishment and non-establishment and pretty strongly attack the establishment,” Nosef told TPM on Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours before the polls closed in the state. “In Mississippi the establishment really is defined as the people who created the party. I go around making speeches all the time saying establishment isn’t a dirty word and it’s not if you’re a Republican and interested in growing the party and so it’ll be a real challenge, I think, for Chris to reach out to the people that he has been attacking in a major swath manner.”
Nosef also said he could see a scenario where if Cochran won the GOP nomination again McDaniel (pictured) supporters would be so repulsed by the GOP nominee that they would sit the general election out (possibly helping Democratic candidate Travis Childers) or even vote on the Democratic side just to spite Cochran.
Nosef said that “if Thad Cochran wins I’m concerned obviously about something similar to what happened in Kentucky. I mean obviously [there are] polls, and they may have softened, but when I saw them I believe it said that 40 percent of Bevin supporters said they would not vote for McConnell and 25 percent said they would vote for a Democrat so obviously we’re trying to prevent that.”
The comments by Nosef, who has officially remained neutral throughout the primary, are the latest illustration of just how bloody the Mississippi primary between McDaniel and Cochran has been. Polls have shown a tight race, even in the wake of the arrest of political blogger “Constitutional Clayton” Kelly who photographed Cochran’s wife and used her image in an anti-Cochran video. Kelly and three other men were arrested in connection with the photographing. All of them are McDaniel supporters.
McDaniel, however, seems to have weathered the investigation so far and both supporters of Cochran and McDaniel have said they expect the Republican primary to be close.
In April Nosef urged the McDaniel campaign to address why he had been slated to appear at a guns and tea party event featuring a vendor of confederate memorabilia who was associated with hate groups. Nosef’s call sparked criticism from McDaniel supporters.