Despite “Poll Watchers,” Black Voter Turnout Determines Mississippi Senatorial Runoff

June 25, 2014  |  

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Even in the face of poll watchers, deployed by Tea Party enthusiasts to intimidate them, black voters came out in enough numbers to give Sen. Thad Cochran the runoff win in the Mississippi primary.

Sen. Cochran(R) , faced with a huge challenge from conservative Chris McDaniel, made a point of campaigning in Democratic parts of the state, specifically courting black voters in the lead up to the runoff.  In the Senate for 40 years, Cochran needed to expand the number of voters who came out if he was to beat the 41-year-old McDaniel. Everyone was allowed to vote in the runoff.

Besides Sen. Cochran’s assertion that he has done things to benefit black voters, there were concerns about McDaniel who, according to The New York Timeshas made racially insensitive comments as a talk show host, saying he wouldn’t pay taxes if it went to reparations and similar language. His side called the outreach “desperate” because Sen. Cochran reached out to “liberal Democrats.” (They were careful to avoid saying he was desperate for outreach to blacks.)

Ultimately, turnout was up 40 percent in counties with a majority black population, in one county up 92 percent, Gawker says. But before they could express their right to vote, they had to deal with McDaniel and his disgusting tactics.

“At a Tea Party Express rally over the weekend, McDaniel supporter Sue Barnett ‘suggested that Cochran’s campaign had hired a community organizer to pay blacks to show up at the polls on Tuesday,'” says Gawker in a separate story. Ken Cuchinelli, a conservative candidate for governor of Virginia earlier this year and a supporter of McDaniel, said specifically, “The laws in Mississippi are unusually open to poll watching from the outside. We’re going to take full advantage of that and we’re going to lay eyes on Cochran’s effort to bring Democrats in.”

Let’s take a moment to applaud these voters who stood up to the “poll watchers” and anyone else who tried to disenfranchise and scare them. In the end, they didn’t necessarily get the most progressive politician, but they also didn’t get the bigot.

“I don’t know too much about McDaniel other than what McDaniel’s saying: that he’s Tea Party, he’s against Obama, he don’t like black people. You’re going to get one of the white guys in there. You got to make a choice,” said Roger Smith, who organized black voters for Cochran. Maybe with this win, black citizens will feel empowered enough to get a candidate next time that they truly support.

Sen. Cochran will now face a Democrat, Travis Childers, in the general election.

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