Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sid Salter: Senate Hopefuls Leave Neshoba with Very Different Kinds of Campaign Momentum

The major contenders in the 2018 Class II U.S. Senate nonpartisan special election on Nov. 6 left the state’s premier political stump with very different kinds of momentum.

Neshoba County Fair speeches from Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven, GOP state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, and Democratic former secretary of agriculture Mike Espy of Madison have set the tone for what at this point appears to be a predictable stretch run. Along with former municipal candidate Tobey Bartee of Gautier, the trio is vying for a partial term succeeding retired former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran that will end in 2021.

Bartee has yet to produce any significant sign of any type of serious campaign and is difficult to take seriously when compared with the active campaigns of his three opponents.

At Neshoba, expectations were high that the Founder’s Square Pavilion would serve as the backdrop for fiery oratory that would deliver a knockout for one candidate or the other in the race. McDaniel, known as an old school political speaker who also previously dabbled in talk radio, the Neshoba County Fair offered a chance to rejuvenate and recharge his campaign after recent disheartening results from his Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports.

The intensity of the McDaniel supporters who traveled to the fairgrounds to support their candidate, should not be underestimated. No candidate at the 2018 Neshoba County Fair had a more visible or vocal band of supporters than did McDaniel. They packed the front rows to cheer McDaniel and to heckle his opponents, particularly Espy and Hyde-Smith.

McDaniel’s speech at Neshoba, however, did not significantly change his circumstances. While delivered at times with the eloquence of a tent revival evangelist, McDaniel focused on specific criticism of Democrats in general and Espy and Class I Senate race Democratic contender state Rep. David Baria in particular far more than of fellow Republican Hyde-Smith.

McDaniel never mentioned Hyde-Smith by name, but aimed his criticism at “establishment” Republicans and those who do not share his definition of constitutional conservatism.

But the retail political narrative of the race between Espy, Hyde-Smith, and McDaniel would suggest that McDaniel’s attack on Espy might have been overkill. Espy is positioned to perform well on Nov. 6. Hyde-Smith represents a far more formidable opponent to McDaniel’s hope of doing what he fell short of doing in 2014 – actually winning a Mississippi U.S. Senate race.

Espy, standing at a venue that has been called “Republican Woodstock” by a national political writer, gave an unflinching speech in support of Democratic positions and countered both GOP political positions and those of the Donald Trump administration. Espy drew applause at several points in his speech and was not without vocal supporters of his own under the tin roof of the pavilion.

He didn’t criticize his Senate race opponents from either party directly. Espy talked about his own beliefs and goals.

Sen. Hyde-Smith was greeted by a large number of supporters for her Neshoba speech. She delivered a humble, heartfelt and simple message – that she was grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of the state, that the seat she filled in the U.S. Senate belonged to them, and that she was particularly honored to follow in the footsteps of former Sen. Cochran.

She talked about the lot of Mississippi farmers, ranchers, and producers in a global economy. She talked about jobs and economic opportunity. She talked about her private visit with Judge Brent Kavanaugh and her inclusion in other key Trump White House initiatives. She thanked Gov. Phil Bryant for appointing her to the Senate vacancy when Cochran stepped down.

The truth is that it’s highly unlikely that any candidate gets a 50 percent plus one majority in the Nov. 6 race. Leaving Neshoba, the momentum question is or at least should be whether any candidate said anything persuasive enough to challenge the seats that Hyde-Smith already holds on the Senate Appropriations and Agriculture committees?

McDaniel’s speech was almost entirely philosophical. Espy talked about partisan realignment. Hyde-Smith talked about governing and serving Mississippians from Senate committees where she can continue to get things done.

Leaving Neshoba, that’s the point from which the stretch run begins.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Completely useless article, Sid has become like a Mississippi Politician. Publish the same old dry material and expect people to read it just because you are Sid Salter. This provided no real analysis (or insights) on the merits of each candidate's approach at the fair.

Anonymous said...

The Neshoba County Fair is SO overrated politically. It's on par with the New Hampshire primary as far as relevance to the election. Candidates trek there because they have to and frothy-mouthed media who are in love with the romantic notion of the old timey political stage (like Sidney) cover it as if it's a true make-or-break event.

It's not like the candidates are speaking to the common man. It's a giant frat party with the well-to-do white peoples drinking weed killer and pretending to be "down home folks" for a week.

So basically, YAWN!

Anonymous said...

Completely useless post @9:33. Instead of your regular anonymous criticism of Salter articles why don't you go ahead and just contact him at regarding your political insight.

Anonymous said...

Sid can take the heat. You are free to read elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Lets' get off of the badmouthing of Sid and turn this thread into something really worth reading: What are the best political anecdotes, stories or happenings in the history of the NCF? Tell the story and name names. (Hoping to hear, even if anonymously, from some of those with an historical flair -- calling Steve Guyton).

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, it appears that many of your routine bloggers hate Jackson, Ole Miss, Yeti coolers, condos in Destin or Oxford, Mayor Lamumba, JPS administrators, African Americans, grocery store buffets, gun control, Hillary, Delbert Hoseman, Phil Bryant, Tate Reeves, NFL players who kneel, pot holes, the Jackson Zoo, lawyers, rich people, etc. All of that hating must leave little time to enjoy life and be thankful. Sad.

Anonymous said...

11:11 = a fish hooked in the gill.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why Lynn Fitch (Mitchell), at the last minute, reneged on her acceptance of an invitation to speak? Why was she a no-show?

Anonymous said...


Here's a tissue.

Anonymous said...

The Yeti Cooler thing is a mockery of people who not only spend $400 on an icebox, but then feel the need to brag about spending $400 on an icebox. It's more about the stickers than the coolers themselves.

You are omitting others who express disdain for Whole Foods, Rankin (aka Niknar) County, Madison (county or city), Mayor Mary, Ben Allen, the Farish Street Project, PFG shirts, Kenny and Laritacooper, Donner and the JFP (is that still a thing?), Ashby Foote, the Two Lakes Project, Fondren hipsters...the list goes on!

What you don't get is that with a few exceptions, the things on that list are debated, discussed, mocked, etc. but not hated. I'd say the NFL kneeling and gun control rise to that, but most of it is old fashioned political chatter. Shame you can't make that distinction.

Change the Flag and Fill the Potholes said...

Still not one comment regarding the topic of this thread - the candidates...

Anonymous said...

Comment on the Candidates, to 1:22pm, with love.

Hyde-Smith is a puppet of the state GOP
Espy is a relic of the Clinton era
McDaniel is a joke of the highest order

There's only one issue that matters to me...PERTECT OUR FLAG!!!

Anonymous said...

12:37, I am aware of the distinction. There is some legitimate political debate on this blog. But there also is plenty of hate-filled rhetoric. Don’t be an apologist for the ignorant haters.

P.S. I agree about the Yeti stickers.

Anonymous said...

Sid has to be paid by the word. He writes the most words in an empty paragraph as I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

I think McDaniel and his supporters overplayed their hand. Bus folks in- that is fine. But, to heckle and act like fools during a speech in the way they did isn't going to win you any votes either. It of course rallies his base, but he isn't expanding it.

Anonymous said...

Heckling, cheering and waving signs at a political jamboree event in 94 degree heat? Say it ain't so!

The NCF was never advertised as a Sunday School Sword Drill. The only ones I feel sorry for are those sitting on porches, under fans, hoping you'll look their way, thinking they're upper crust.

Celebrate The Sippi.. said...

Neshoba County Fair - The Kentucky Derby of Mississippi.

Straw hat instead of fine, fancy headwear.

Wheat-straw between your teeth instead of a $48 dollar cigar.

Cotton britches instead of fine silk.

Jewelry from The Dollar Tree.

A black Tahoe instead of a $535,000 motor coach.

Cooler of PBR in the back of the truck instead of fine bourbon.

Phil Bryant instead of Jack Nicholson.

Cindy Hyde instead of somebody with class.

Corn dogs and pretzels instead of oysters and Chardonnay.

Six year old buggy horses instead of...well, you get it.

Anonymous said...

2:05 am NCF is not a political rally, it is a fair where politicians who once came simply because many were gathered in one place, were invited to speak formally rather than be continuously bothersome.

Cheering and waving signs are fine, but heckling is simply uncouth and disrespectful to the rest of the audience. Hecklers are at best like drunk, attention seeking teenagers on spring break. At worst, they are mentally unstable people craving attention as a cry for help or symptomatic fanaticism.

Most fair goers are there to see friends and family, to have fun , hear great music , eat great food and have fun. I would remind you there are tree swings and sand piles and children playing near the stage.

And, I hope you have a good reason for being up at 2:05 am and it's not a medical symptom or your conscience keeping you awake.

Kingfish said...

One of the reasons I don't go to Neshoba. Outdoors at a fair in Mississippi in July? No thanks. It's not as if the speeches are made to crowds of people who have few other means to listen to candidates. Now its just packed with cheerleaders and an excuse to send out Youtube clips and press releases.

Anonymous said...

Just tossing this out there, but McDaniel most likely has another goal in this. The math simply doesn't work for him in this election - it is literally a jungle out there and Cindy Lou-Who and Mike Milhous Espy ("I am not a crook...") are going to split at least 70% of the first vote, so McDaniel is out. He may be a lunatic, but he isn't a stupid lunatic, so what is he REALLY after?

One thing that comes to mind is him thinking he can get some scraps by supporting whichever of the two looks to be the winner in the run-off. If it's Espy, he can court a swath of the black vote for the future (not as far-fetched as it might sound) and if it's Cindy, he can gain support from white voters who aren't quite as redneck his base (the "well, it is 2018 and the colored gentleman certainly had the right to run...but that was close..." crowd). In either case, he can extract some immediate price for that support. This one isn't for the full 6 year term, so Mississippi is almost certain to see the Chris McDaniel circus/shitshow continue for at least 2 more years unless he gets something to shut him up.

As to McDaniel and the black vote, while McDaniel has been called a racist by just about all the white folks that oppose him, and some of his supporters are racist, what has McDaniel personally said or done to totally foreclose ALL black support? Typical answers from white folks, especially liberals, assuming they can speak for all black Mississippians will likely miss the mark. If one objectively analyses his stated positions, many aren't all that far, if different at all, from religion-and-family black (lower-case "c") conservatives and on issues that matter to them. The Cochran mess can be explained away as his being against election-stealing of any kind, but especially so by conning gullible black voters. Even his "fiscal conservatism" can be addressed: he isn't against all black folks getting "welfare," he is against financially supporting anyone who could but doesn't contribute as much as they can. And in fact, on both issues that is generally what he has said, or at least not emphatically disproved by what he has said. He would be wasting his time and other people's money with Espy (or really, any black candidate) in THIS race, but executed properly over the next two years, it would be possible to cobble together enough black support (or diffuse black opposition) to make an optically- and mathematically-viable challenge, which would bring in real money including some from unexpected sources, which would fund further support-gathering, etc., etc. So, if Espy wins this one, he would then be a GOP challenger in MS who could at least diffuse black opposition even if he didn't have much outright support and if Cindy wins, he would then be the "outsider"/populist challenger with support "across the racial spectrum."

Anonymous said...

You wasted an awful lot of keystrokes with that impossible scenario, 9:26. No way in hell McDaniel would support or throw support to either of them.

So, it's not a matter of McDaniel 'wasting his time'...It's a matter of YOU wasting YOURS and OURS.

Anonymous said...

Well, one of us is going to incorrect. While McDaniel is no Trump and this race is not a POTUS election, Trump as GOP nominee, as POTUS, and Hillary losing to him were all widely seen as "impossible scenarios," too. Still are for many.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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