Greek King Pyrrhus fought with Rome during the Hellenic Age. He won his battles, but his victories were so costly that eventually his armies were destroyed. This is where we get the term a “Pyrrhic” victory.
Haley Barbour is the Republican Party’s version of King Pyrrhus.
Barbour is the former Mississippi governor and ultimate Republican Establishment insider. He decided that he would ensure that Sen. Thad Cochran would win at all costs.
Cochran won, though the campaign of his challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel is challenging the results.
Most people talk about the coalition of groups that make up the Democratic Party. There is also a coalition of groups that make up the Republican Party. These include fiscal and social conservatives, tea party activists, some big business interests and defense hawks.
In his strategy to crush the tea rarty and ensure that Cochran would win, Haley Barbour and his team reached out to Democrats to cross over and vote for Thad Cochran in the Mississippi Senate runoff election on June 24.
There are allegations that the Cochran campaign engaged in an old Southern tradition of what is called “walking around money.” That is money given to preachers in primarily black communities to get the vote out.
The Cochran campaign, and presumably Barbour by extension, passed out fliers in black communities accusing the tea party of being racist and telling Democrats to go out and vote for Cochran to stop the tea party.
Cochran got his Democrats and his win.
But at what cost?
Assuming McDaniel’s challenges are unsuccessful, Cochran will face Democrat Travis Childers in the general election. There are discussions about McDaniel attempting a write-in campaign, but there is a division of opinion whether this is permitted under Mississippi law.
Cochran and Barbour destroyed the Republican alliance. They made war on the base, and now they are paying the price.
Tea party activists now are considering the possibility of returning the favor to Cochran in the general election — assuming McDaniel does not win a challenge or isn’t doing a write-in campaign — by voting for Travis Childers.
The Republican leadership in Washington better be paying attention to this.
The problem is not that Cochran won. It is how he won.
If conservatives stay home on Election Day in Mississippi in November or even pull the lever for Childers in retaliation, he could win the race. Cochran’s seat has been assumed to be a safe seat.
If the Democrats take that seat, it could cost the GOP the majority in the Senate.
After the war the Establishment waged on the tea party in Mississippi, few tea party activists care.
This stands in stark contrast to what happened in Virginia. In Virginia, establishment Republicans whined about going to a convention to select the state GOP nominees.
Ed Gillespie, who is also one of the quintessential Republican insiders, did not whine or complain. Nor did he make war on the Tea Party.
He ran a methodical campaign and kept his campaign positive. He won the nomination and this fall, while he clearly is not the first choice of tea party activists, they will vote for him over Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
In Mississippi, the Establishment made war on the tea party. The Republican leadership in Washington either did nothing or quietly cheered Cochran.
They had better wake up, because the tea party and conservatives are not simply going to meekly fall back into line and vote for Cochran in the fall.
The Republican National Committee better wake up, because the tea party is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore.
And without the tea party, the GOP is going to lose elections.
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