Trailing in the polls
and facing increasing concerns about the mental fitness
of their aged candidate, supporters of incumbent Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran have taken a new course in their attempt to stave off tea party challenger Chris McDaniel: getting a Democrat political operative to canvass — and, several critics allege, buy — black votes on his behalf.
James "Scooby Doo" Warren, a Democrat political operative, is behind the effort and says he is "putting it in place across the whole state," the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.
Warren said he is not working directly with the Cochran campaign but with the Haley Barbour-supported Mississippi Conservatives Super PAC and Bishop Ronnie Crudup Sr., the Ledger reports.
The runoff is next Tuesday.
Asked if any Democrats were concerned about his working on a Republican primary, Warren replied that he "got all that taken care of on the front end," the Ledger reports.
"I called D.C. and told them what was going on with the tea party," Warren said.
The canvassing effort is drawing all kinds of allegations of impropriety from McDaniel supporters and even from the head of the Democratic Party in Mississippi.
The trail seems to start with one Pete Perry.
Perry is chairman of the Hinds County Republican Executive Committee. The Executive Committee oversees GOP primary elections in the state, the Ledger notes.
Perry's consulting firm has also been hired by the Barbour-supported Mississippi Conservatives PAC, which is leading the fight outside of Cochran's campaign to re-elect the 76-year-old senator to a seventh term, the Ledger reports.
"Does this seem fair to you?" McDaniel supporter and tea party leader Roy Nicholson wrote in a post on McDaniel's campaign Facebook page," the Ledger reports.
According to the newspaper's account, Mississippi Democrat Chairman Rickey Cole sent a Facebook message to a Wall Street Journal reporter that was later tweeted by state Sen. Tony Smith in which Cole said Perry was buying votes for the Cochran campaign through Warren.
Cole has admitted the message was his.
Catherine Engelbrecht, head of vote integrity group True The Vote, has called for an investigation into the allegations, Breitbart News reports.
"We're extremely troubled by what we're hearing out of Hinds County, Mississippi," Engelbrecht told Breitbart. "How can Mississippi voters have confidence in the integrity of the election if election officials are being paid off by Sen. Cochran or whomever manages his PAC's checkbook?"
Whether it's called vote canvassing or vote buying, the move to deploy Democrats on behalf of an incumbent in the bitterly contested primary runoff goes against the conventional political storyline that Democrats seek to vote in Republican primaries to help tea party candidates, thus allowing a perceived "weaker" opponent to claim the GOP nomination to square off against a Democrat in the general election.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's campaign manager Ray Allen used that very argument, despite declarations to the contrary from analysts and a vote-modeling expert, to explain his incumbent candidate's historic upset last week in Virginia.
"We had probably 15,000 card-carrying Democrats come into this primary. There's just no way to anticipate something like that," Allen told The Hill
after tea party favorite Dave Brat's victory.
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