The Current State Of The GOP Primary In MS-01
Yesterday I provided some commentary on the GOP primary in MS-04 and today I will look at MS-01. And while I didn’t want to make any predictions yesterday, I’ll do so today. I gave pretty good indication at where I am going in my posts earlier today, but I will go a little more in depth right now.
Where do I start? I guess the easiest thing to do first is to write a little bit about the candidates and the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The moment Greg Davis lost the special election to Travis Childers in the spring of 2008, I imagine many Republican party faithful, strategist, and leaders went looking for a candidate who could defeat Childers and circled Nunnelee as their man. Nunnelee would go on to enter the race this past summer and was heralded as a top recruit by the NRCC. He has worked his way up the Young Guns ladder and now sits in the second tier. Nunnelee was recruited for good reason: he is from the right part of the district (Tupelo rather than Desoto county), has a relatively high profile from his time in the state Senate, and has the establishment ties needed to raise money.
But over the past year, something interesting has happened in the country- the mood has soured on politicians to the point that the NRCC gave pretty strong indication that they prefer recruits without the extensive political background. That said, Nunnelee- like Steven Palazzo in the Fourth- has the business background in addition to their legislative careers (obviously being a state legislature in Mississippi is not a full-time job). And in some cases, we have seen a rejection of the establishment choices. I’ve mentioned Charlie Crist many times and another is Trey Grayson in Kentucky. He was the establishment backed candidate in the open Senate seat in the Bluegrass state. He will more than likely lose to Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, in the GOP primary in a couple weeks. But, as I mentioned earlier today, that sentiment did not play out in Indiana. Will it play out in Mississippi?
Ross has been publicly interested in running since last summer and officially entered in February. When talking with people about Ross, I haven’t heard anyone say too much negative. He is good on the issues, can give a good speech, etc. That said, he is the least known of the three candidates and has had the most difficult time getting his name out there. He made a nice personal donation to his campaign, but simply hasn’t raised enough money to spread his message.
He is what I would the anti-Nunnelee lite candidate. Ross has talked about career politicians, has pledged term-limits, been a frequent speaker at Tea Parties, but never really attacked Nunnelee head on. I honestly don’t think he needs to go that route (it hasn’t helped Angela McGlowan). But without the money or strong grassroots support, Ross just has not gained traction to this point.
By far one of the weirder campaigns I remember, McGlowan is a good study in why any press (negative included) is not always good press. McGlowan has by far the most name recognition of the three on a national level. If this election was being decided by the people in attendance at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville or the Tea Party Express rally in Searchlight, Nevada- McGlowan would be your winner hands down. She has been in national stories spotlighting blacks in the Tea Party movement, had her picture on Drudge, and has made several appearances on her old network (Fox New) during the campaign. Looking at my blog search engine term stats, her name has been searched for five times more than Nunnelee’s. Unfortunately for her again, a good chunk of that is from national attention. And this just has not translated in the First District.
Looking back, the McGlowan campaign once had promise. With the national appeal, she had the opportunity to turn that into fundraising- which she has not done. There is no other word but disappointing to describe her Q1 fundraising. But that was not her biggest undoing. As soon as she announced her candidacy, the old audio from her Gallo comments that she made last summer on gun registration re-emerged. Rather than focusing on the campaign she wanted to run, she went in defense and attack mode. She quickly sent out an email blasting Nunnelee for being behind this. Anytime you start a campaign- especially a primary- by attacking an opponent you are in trouble. Bottom line: she has not built a positive message to give reason to vote for her.
Nunnelee is in very good position to win without a runoff at this point. If Nunnelee was to be held under 50 percent, his general election campaign would be in a lot of trouble. Nunnelee has acted like a front-runner, stayed above the fray, and made the necessary steps to win. The Republican sources I spoke with all predicted a Nunnelee win without a runoff, while one predicted 60 percent. I would say that would be a strong showing for his campaign going forward.