Yesterday I received an email from the Chris McDaniel campaign (he is running against Senator Thad Cochran in the Mississippi primary). Ignoring that it was a request for money – every campaign mailer is in some shape or form – the precise issue he took umbrage with was very interesting. He states that Cochran is urging Democrats to vote for him in the primary. To McDaniel, this amounts to Republican treason it seems. To Cochran it could mean the difference between victory and defeat. The issue to me is much larger though.
The primary battles seem to consume so much energy, time and money…and they are only for (roughly) one-third of the citizens who vote. In some states the primary can be the only race that matters due to and overwhelming partisan base. Mississippi is one of those states. It has a huge Republican/Conservative population. In most cases, the person who wins the primary wins the state. So, why shouldn’t Democrats be courted? Why should a voting populace be shut out of an election simply because of partisanship?
Indiana has an open primary system, one of the many things I love about the Hoosier State. If my vote could make a difference in a highly contested race and I favored one candidate over the other, shouldn’t I be allowed to cast my vote for him/her? Mississippi is similar in this way, one does not have to register as a Republican to vote in the republican Primary. Imagine that, being able to vote in the races that you feel are important to you.
Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel are running to represent the entire state of Mississippi in the United States Senate. They are not running to represent the Republican Party there, they are not running to represent the Tea Party there. They are running to represent each and every Mississippian there. As such, those who they are seeking to represent should have the ability to choose the best candidate to represent them…and in Mississippi that ability is likely at its pinnacle during the primary rather than the general election.
Now, this type of thing could easily be solved through a top-two primary system where the two most popular candidates face off in the general election rather than in a race that ends well before November and has significantly fewer voters. Chances are the person who loses this nomination battle will be much closer to their victor than the Democratic challenger is in November and may very well have more total votes than the Democratic Party’s nominee, that’s just how “Red” Mississippi is.
Mr. McDaniel should think about his “scare tactic” and realize that he is alienating the very people he hopes to one day serve as United States Senator.