Sunday, February 24, 2019

Bill Crawford: GOP Brawl Brewing

“Governor’s race just got interesting,” read a text message the day after columnist Geoff Pender announced Bill Waller, Jr., will enter the race.

Oh, the just retired Supreme Court Justice deciding to take on frontrunner Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the Republican primary stirs a lot of interest. But adding state Sen. Chris McDaniel to the mix really whips it up.

Waller was one of the candidates I wrote about 18 months ago that pragmatic Republican leaders were considering as fears mounted that Reeves could not beat Democrat Jim Hood in November. Those fears only increased as early polling data showed Reeves trailing the Attorney General.

As I wrote, Waller comes with a “substantive resume” that could play well with military friendly, Bible-belt Mississippians. He spent 30 years in the Army guard and reserves, rising to Brigadier General. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. He is also a deacon at First Baptist Church in Jackson.

A Mississippi State University graduate, Waller got his law degree from Ole Miss and rose to become a well-regarded, conservative Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.

In the aftermath of Pender’s revelation, political pundits generally agreed Waller will be a credible candidate able to raise money and positioned to tap dissatisfaction with Reeves.

But, it won't be easy. Reeves has won statewide Republican primaries since 2003, first as State Treasurer, then as Lt. Governor in 2011. He has catered to the tea party Republican base and has $7 million is his political kitty. Waller, as a non-partisan judicial candidate, has never won a party primary and starts with an empty kitty.

Now throw in McDaniel. The twice-defeated U.S. Senate candidate has a rabid ultra-conservative base and access to big outside funding that would make him a serious factor in any Republican primary. With Waller pulling disgruntled GOP voters from Reeves, McDaniel’s base could easily get him into a runoff.

This becomes all the more likely if President Donald Trump endorses McDaniel, apparently a real possibility. McDaniel told WAPT, "He's shown an inclination to support me whatever I decide."

Waller will have to move fast on a number of fronts. He must quickly raise millions; gain positive name ID with GOP voters; gain traction with the tea party conservative base, e.g., he may fare well with pro-life and pro-gun voters, but be viewed skeptically by anti-tax voters if he runs on a pro-infrastructure platform as expected; and, convince primary voters he has the best chance to beat Hood in November.

Reeves’ challenge will be to hold off business, Baptist, Bulldog, and military defections to Waller while (probably) fighting McDaniel for the tea party votes he has worked so hard to corral, then exit the primaries strong enough to take on Hood. Getting Gov. Phil Bryant's endorsement was a plus.

McDaniel will need lots of outside money and Trump all in to win.

How all this will play out is anybody’s guess. Could behind-the-scenes scheming head off a Waller or McDaniel candidacy at the last minute? Can Reeves cut off their avenues of support?

No longer the only anti-Reeves alternative, Hood can only watch and hope a down and dirty Republican primary brawl enhances his chances in November.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian 

Kingfish note: Is Mr. Crawford going to write about the Democratic Brawl?  Inquiring minds want to know.  


Anonymous said...

I’m in with Waller. Tate would have us drive on dirt roads if it meant we didn’t have to raise taxes. McDaniel has his chance and revealed just how crazy he really is.

Anonymous said...

So 8:12, you are in favor of a tax increase?

Unknown said...

McDaniel is desperate to hold ANY office other than the one he currently holds. Total lack of self-awareness. People (outside of Jones county and never-Trumpers) simply don't like him.

Anonymous said...

What about Robert Foster

Oops I did it again said...

The only chance for having decent roads with Tate as Gov would be to live betweenTates house and the mall.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with a tax increase if it's for a legit need and the money is spent as intended. Tate is a COWARD for not advocating a gasoline tax increase. I buy at least 100 gallons a month. Would I pay an extra 10 cents a gallon if it meant I could get to work faster, travel faster, not have to worry about burst tires and alignments, dodge potholes and take bridge detours? Absolutely. Our economy, both personal and business, is suffering because of our horrible roads. If I was a Fortune 500 exec scouting MS sites I would turn around and head back to the airport the minute I hit these third world urban and rural roads. Tax increase? Damn right I would support one.

Anonymous said...

So you are in favor of a gas tax increase. Is that it? Your only interest is a gas tax increase?

otisfyfe said...

Did I miss a Mac-Dan-You-Ulls (gallo) announcement?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I support a gas tax increase. No other way to support the existing infrastructure. The longer you wait, the more costly the repairs will be.
Tate doesn’t get this. Waller does. It’s called leadership.
It might be unpopular with the far right, but have you seen how many bridges have been closed?
Roads and bridges are falling apart. Waller gets it.

Anonymous said...

8:52, do you change the oil in your vehicle? Do you have the tires replaced when they wear out? Do you change your air filters in your house when they get dirty? In other words, do you repair and maintain your assets?

Anonymous said...

10:11....or KFC

Anonymous said...

Everyone keeps talking about a gas tax......

Back in '85, I believe, a gas tax of 5 cents a gallon was passed to fund completion of several 4 lane roads across Mississippi east / west.
This tax was to be repealed after 15 years ( Yea, like that would ever happen ), which means it'd be repealed around 2000.

So that means that tax has been collected for almost 20 years. Where is all that money? Who has been spending the money and on what????? How much has Dick Hall had his fingers on??

Inquiring minds want to know!!

Anonymous said...

When someone writes that Trump will Support McD, and not in a joking manner, you just lost all credibility. On an realistic note, IF...McD signs up, he can get 150,000 votes without batting an eye. Foster gets 2%, Waller gets more than enough to force a run off. Now, if Waller wins the runoff, he is starting out broke against Hood. If Tate win the runoff, he has about half what he has now against Hood. This whole time Hood is loving every minute of this. If you like political drama, this year you got it. And this is just part of it all.

Anonymous said...

Those of us who actually pay taxes surely should support an increase that would be dedicated solely to highway, road and bridge repair. And don't put 'infrastructure' in any bill. The legislature will cork-screw that word around to mean most anything, including improved lighting in Tico's parking lot.

Anonymous said...

The Dems now have a “truth or fiction” primary which will be no holds barred with RSS from the Hinds Twighlight Zone and Bennie getting all the far-left money. It’s going to be a political zoo. I’m buying a get-out-the vote bus.

Anonymous said...

2:14, as a Ronald Reagan Republican that will vote for Hood, I absolutely love it!

Anonymous said...

Gotta love these clown posters (or is it just one?) who post 'I'm a republican who will vote for Hood'. That strategerie ain't gonna work for ya, Homer.

Waller for Governor.
Spooner for Sheriff.

Anonymous said...

Hood's path to the general election is extremely murky now unless those 'Ronald Reagan Republicans' cross over to vote for him in the Democratic primary.

Anonymous said...

At February 24 @ 10:04 AM.....Robert Foster is THE CANDIDATE!! I wish that conservatives would sit back and really look at who he is and what he stands for. He definitely has my vote!

Anonymous said...

Tate wins.... Waller will have to move fast on a number of fronts. He must quickly raise millions; gain positive name ID with GOP voters; gain traction with the tea party conservative base.....

Anonymous said...

I’ve got to wait and see who supports Trump the most. That is the only thing that matters currently. I’m looking for the guy who will stand with Trump and tell everyone about it. Otherwise you are deep state fake news.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of gas tax, highways and Dick Hall...Is it true or not that the reason the Railroad will not work on the crossing at the new extension (from McClellan to the parkway) in Ridgeland is that the D.O.T. won't pay them what they're owed? Hall should have retired ten years ago. (or did he?)

Anonymous said...

I'm really tired of Chris McDaniel, and do not see him as bringing anything to the table for any Mississippian

Anonymous said...

Will vote for Waller first. If he loses then will vote for Hood or not at all. Looks like most people think Tate wins in a landslide though.

Anonymous said...

Newsflash: McDaniel has made no such announcement. Neither has Espy or Blackmon or Charlie Ross or Jeppy Barbour or The Ghost of Henry Kirksey.

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