Tea Party Senate Candidate In Mississippi Has Ties To Neo-Confederate/Secessionist Group

Several conservative groups have jumped on the bandwagon of what appears to be a controversial Mississippi politician.

Confederate Battle Flag

It was just a few days ago that Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi State Senator who has forged close alliances with Tea Party organizations in the Magnolia State, announced that he would be challenging Republican Senator Thad Cochran, who will be running for a seventh term in 2014 unless he decides to retire. McDaniel’s announcement was almost immediately followed by endorsements from several high profile conservative groups ranging from Club For Growth to the Senate Conservatives Fund, one of the organizations behind this years “Defund Obamcare” movement which led to a Federal Government shutdown. As it turns out, those groups perhaps should’ve done a little vetting of McDaniel before jumping on his bandwagon:

Chris McDaniel is taking the “GOP Civil War” to a new level. Two months ago, the tea party-backed Mississippi Senate candidate addressed a neo-Confederate conference and costume ball hosted by a group that promotes the work of present-day secessionists and contends the wrong side won the “war of southern independence.” Other speakers at the event included ahistorian who believes Lincoln was a Marxist and Ryan Walters, a PhD candidate who worked on McDaniel’s first political campaign and wrote recently that the “controversy” over President Barack Obama’s birth certificate “hasn’t really been solved.”

McDaniel, a state senator, is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in next summer’s GOP Senate primary. After announcing his run last week, McDaniel quickly picked up endorsements from the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a prominent backer of the tea party. Both groups are key players in the internal GOP battle between establishment-minded Republicans and tea party insurgents and are backing right-wing challenges to incumbent Republicans whom they deem insufficiently conservative. Cochran, who is finishing out his 35th year in the Senate and has not said if he will seek re-election, earned the ire of tea partiers by voting to re-open the federal government and avert defaulting on the debt. McDaniel, whose campaign bus features an image of Article I of the Constitution, has promised to make Cochran’s debt ceiling vote a centerpiece of his campaign.


The Rosin Heels does more than regret the outcome of the Civil War. Its monthly newsletter routinely features articles and essays advocating for present-day secession. Its August newsletter highlighted the seven-year-old “Burlington Declaration” from the First North American Secession Convention, which stated that the right of secession was a “[truth] of natural law and the human experience.” (While it did not advcoate for specific secession movement, the proclamation affirmed the right of the conference’s various attendees to do so.) In September, the newsletter included an essay on secession from the League of the South, lamenting the loss of southern independence at the hands of the “plutocracy and proletariat of the world.” A note from the editor stated that “we are living in the times that Jefferson Davis predicted would one day come,” in which the conflicts that presaged the Civil War would flare up again. The June issue compared Obama’s policies to the ravages of Reconstruction: “Our people have had to put up with for the last FIFTEEN DECADES!!!”

McDaniel is “just proud of his heritage and grateful for it, and that’s the reason we wanted him to come in and speak a couple of times,” says George Jaynes, a member of the Rosin Heels and the newsletter’s editor, who confirmed that McDaniel had attended the events. “We’re mainly here to remember the Confederate soldier, our Confederates beliefs, our culture, our civilization. We’re here to remember their good names upheld them to tell the truth and to give the facts of the war whether it falls on our side or the other. We’re here to tell the truth—that’s what the SCV’s about and that’s the kind of speaker we bring in.”

Of course, this being Mississippi, it’s quite possible that this won’t hurt McDaniel very much:

Hobnobbing with birthers and Lost Causers may not be an impediment for McDaniel as he tries to dethrone Cochran—he is, after all, in Mississippi. According a 2011 survey from Public Policy Polling, only 47 percent of Mississippians—and 21 percent of Mississippi Republicans—were satisfied with the outcome of the Civil War.

Perhaps, but this is the kind of candidate that, if he gains a foothold in the race is likely to become a focus nationally as we head into 2014 in a manner that isn’t likely to do the GOP much good nationally, much in the manner in which candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock did and said things that had implications for the party far beyond their particular races.  One blogger who has worked as a  political communications adviser for several Republican campaigns put it this way:

The man’s pastime of speaking to people who aren’t fully convinced the Civil War actually ended wasn’t exactly a subtle one that ran just under the radar in his home state. McDaniel was the keynote speaker at multiple events. To be fair, of course, Mississippi is one of several states still reeling from the war’s outcome, despite it having taken place more than a century and a half ago, and while I hope these aren’t the kind of events southern politicians attend routinely, they seem to be, at least, routine events.

But here’s the thing. While there are lots of potential excuses for McDaniel’s extracurricular activity, none of them should have to be raised in defense of someone picked to potentially run a statewide campaign for a national office. If McDaniel wants to stay in Mississippi and appeal to the local flora and fauna by attending events that celebrate an era most Americans would rather forget, and blow out candles on Jefferson Davis’ birthday cake, that’s his prerogative, but he’s certainly not qualified to go anywhere near the US Senate.Especially since embracing someone who frequents neo-confederate events plays directly into the larger liberal narrative about the Tea Party. But apparently, foreseeing such troubles is too difficult for people who frequently accuse nearly every other American political segment of shortsightedness.

This isn’t an optics problem. This isn’t a metrics problem. It’s a candidate problem. And someone should have known better.

This seems to be something that anyone who has any experience at all in politics would seem to realize as a matter of course. Candidate selection is the first step in trying to win an election, and if you don’t handle that correctly then everything else that follows is likely to be a disaster. Imagine, for example, that Republicans in Delaware had rallied behind a candidate in Delaware that could actually win a General Election in that state instead of the flashy Tea Party star. They would’ve had a realistic chance of winning in that state and reducing the Democratic Majority from 53-47 to 52-48. Instead of doing that by nomination longtime Congressman and former Governor Mike Castle, they went for perpetual Delaware political gadfly Christine O’Donnell, to predictable results. Similarly, Republicans in Nevada had a chance to knock off the Senate Majority Leader, but essentially signed that away when they nominated Sharron Angle. In 2012, they did much the same thing when they rejected longtime Senator Dick Lugar in favor of Tea Party hero Richard Mourdock.

This year, the GOP faces these same choices. In addition to Mississippi, there are potential primary challenges to long-serving Republicans brewing in Kentucky against Mitch McConnell, in Tennessee against Lamar Alexander, and in South Carolina against Lindsey Graham. There are also potential primaries for winnable open seats in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia, along with opportunities for GOP pickups in Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Now, to be honest, most of these seats are likely to go Republican no matter who the nominee, this is especially true of Tennessee and Mississippi, but the potential seems to exist for Democratic pickups in Georgia and Kentucky if long -term incumbents are cast aside in favor of untested Tea Party candidates. How the races go in these states could be very important to how the race goes heading into the General Election. Additionally, as I noted above, selecting a candidate like McDaniel could have an impact nationally even if it doesn’t end up being a problem in the particular state where the candidate is running.

There’s still no word if Cochran is actually running for reelection. The fact that he’s been in the Senate since 1978 and would be 82 if he served out a seventh term may be reasons he’ll decide to retire. If that happens, it’s likely that other Mississippi Republicans will enter the race. Whatever happens, though, the conservatives who jumped on his bandwagon may want to rethink their support.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. anjin-san says:

    Well, he broke one of the cardinal rules of conservative politics. Never let outsiders know what you really think.

  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Erick Erickson, though, is all in:

    I am donating to Chris McDaniel’s campaign and I hope you will too. If we don’t stand up to the GOP Establishment, we’ll see the Republican Party cave and cave again in the constant battle against socialism.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Wow. Just trying to cope with the feelings that come from my total. . . lack of surprise.

    Gee, it’s almost as if the Tea Party was basically just a bunch of southern and rustic racists who can’t get over the fact that there’s a black man in the White House.

    Why did no one see this earlier on? Oh wait: I did.

  4. Terrye says:

    Great. Just Great. I am a Republican and I wish these people would just go away.

  5. Pinky says:

    I’m just looking up Thad Cochran on Wikipedia. He became a Senator in 1978 after the retirement of James Eastland. Eastland was appointed to the Senate in 1941 (then left briefly and returned). Eastland was appointed after the death of Pat Harrison, who joined the Senate in 1919. Wilson personally endorsed him.

  6. @Pinky:

    And the other Senate Seat for MS was held by John Stennis for 42 years before Trent Lott took the seat after Stennis retired. That seat is now held by Roger Wicker

  7. steve s says:

    Gee, it’s almost as if the Tea Party was basically just a bunch of southern and rustic racists who can’t get over the fact that there’s a black man in the White House.

    Silly Michael, that’s just the “liberal narrative” talking!

  8. legion says:

    Frankly – and I mean this in a totally serious, non-snarky manner – I would be more surprised to see a Tea Party candidate that _didn’t _ have something like this in their closet.

  9. steve s says:

    Great. Just Great. I am a Republican and I wish these people would just go away.

    No, you’re a RINO. Chris McDaniel is a Real Republican.

  10. legion says:

    @Terrye: Unfortunately, nobody’s going to solve this problem for you but you. So long as you a) don’t run people like this out of the party yourself and b) still call yourself a Republican, nothing’s going to change. You’re part of the problem.

  11. But, but, the GOP is the party of Abraham Lincoln don’t you know!

  12. aFloridian says:

    Yeah, it’s not a surprise at all. As a Southerner and a Republican, I truly do feel that the level of hatred directed towards Obama by the Tea Party could only be because of his “otherness” with his unusual name and off-white skin color. The Tea Party is a blight on the GOP.

  13. walt moffett says:

    This is one of the features of party primaries, that anyone can run. How to see who else enters the race and who runs as a Democrat. For those interested, a home state write up at Yallpolitics.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    And just this morning Politico had an article about Allen West complaining that Alan Grayson was comparing the Tea Party to the KKK. Why anybody cares what Allen West said escapes me. But the truth of a statement is supposed to be a sufficient defense against a charge of slander.

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    Tea Party = Civil War 2.0

  16. al-Ameda says:

    This is almost too good to be true.

    I hope, I pray – that they’re serious about secession. What a great opportunity for America – in sports they call it “addition by subtraction.” I haven’t been this optimistic about America since I heard the news that Twinkies were coming to an end.

  17. mantis says:

    Yeah, I saw a lot of outrage about Grayson’s Tea Party-KKK email yesterday. If you don’t want to be compared to the Klan, stop acting like the Klan, morons. Stop talking about repealing the Civil Rights Act, don’t nominate/elect racist Confederates for office, don’t constantly refer to African Americans as slaves and other dehumanizing terms, etc. Otherwise, if the shoe fits…

  18. David M says:

    Each party will get certain candidates that have baggage, especially in primaries, so I don’t think his candidacy by itself means much. The endorsements however, are an embarrassment to those organizations. And actual support by the voters wouldn’t say much good about the GOP in the state either.

  19. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    This is not going to help with the Omnibus Exhaustive Unabridged On-Many-Fronts-At-Once GOP Outreach Plan…

  20. Geek, Esq. says:

    He’s guaranteed to win in Mississippi, where it’s literally impossible to be too backwards and rightwing to win statewide office, so long as you’re white.

    Especially since Cochran is probably not going to seek re-election.

    His election will benefit two people especially: Chris Christie (who can Sistah Souljah him) and Barack Obama.

    He’ll be a disaster for the state of Mississippi and Republican party’s images, but quite frankly that damage will be well-deserved.

  21. michael reynolds says:


    Great. Just Great. I am a Republican and I wish these people would just go away.

    I wish they would, too. I wish Republicans would come back. You know, actual, principled conservatives who when they are out of power will act as a loyal opposition devoted to running this country rather than destroying it.

    But it’s not like you all didn’t know what was happening to your party. You’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see that the GOP had been taken over by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. You’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to hear the race-baiting, the stoking of irrational resentment, the metastasizing fear and hate.

    Your party accepted evil because it brought you power. You made the classic deal with the devil. And then — Shock! Amazement! — it turns out the devil runs your party now. Gosh, how could anyone who’s read Faust or any of a thousand derivative works, or paid even scant attention to the history of extremism, have seen this coming? What a stunning development! You mean, you can’t mainline just a little of the hate drug and not become addicted?

    It wasn’t just possible that these creeps would take over and come to dominate and define the GOP, it was inevitable.

    There’s only one way the GOP can save itself: honest conservatives can grow some balls and stand up for what’s right even if it means losing power for a while. Even if it means staying home on election day. Or (horrors!) voting Democrat for a while.

    We need two parties. Not one party and a bunch of lunatics. I sincerely hope the GOP saves itself, or dies and is reborn. Something. Because what we have right now is f*cked up, it’s bad for the country.

  22. C. Clavin says:

    No… Seriously….Tea Baggers are only interested in fiscal issues.

  23. Tony W says:

    @David M: “Baggage?” That might be a slight understatement when discussing a person that potentially wants to subvert and secede his constituency from the country which he purports to aspire to serve.

  24. David M says:

    @Tony W:

    That was in the context of almost any joker can run in a primary, it shouldn’t really reflect badly on the rest of the party. Said loon getting endorsements and votes is something else entirely.

  25. Grumpy Realist says:

    And then the republican party complains that it doesn’t understand why African-Americans won’t vote for them.

    Um, not palling around with people who think “the wrong side won the Civil War” would be a start…

  26. Scott says:

    It seems to me that it is easy to run against jokers like this. At each meeting he’s at, insist on saying the pledge of allegiance, make sure you tape him saying indivisible, then ask him about his secessionist BS and whether he crossed his fingers while saying the pledge.

    The ads will make themselves. Intercutting secessionist BS with the pledge. Liar or hypocrite. His choice.

  27. stonetools says:

    There is an unholy alliance between those who are against the federal government for economic reasons -the libertarian-conservative types who want to cut taxes and deregulate business-and the folks who oppose the federal government because the federal government prevents them from doing as they like with the melanin-rich people.
    The Ordinary Times blog had a post on it with reference to Rand Paul.
    Money quote:

    I will certainly stop thinking of Rand Paul as the “good” Paul, the one who was over all that bad, old, racist, secessionist nonsense. Very obviously, he’s just fine with all that. He can’t not be fine with it. He must both know about it and tolerate it. The association here seems a good deal stronger, if anything, than the one between the elder Paul and his neo-Confederate associates.

    I do not have to tolerate this stuff, and I won’t. Rand Paul has always insisted that he was a conservative, not a libertarian, and I’d sometimes tried to say, “Well, yeah, but he kind of really is a libertarian. Sort of.” From now on, the conservatives can have him, and they will hear no objections from me. Take him, he’s yours.

    Whatever others may say on the subject, I can’t understand how anyone might admire the Confederacy and also call themselves a libertarian. Any affinity for the Confederacy marks one very clearly as an enemy of liberty.

    Doug is one libertarian who to his credit doesn’t put up with such nonsense(though he still likes Rand Paul), but there are an awful lot of libertarians and conservatives who do. Read the article and the comments-its-enlightening.

  28. john personna says:

    I remember the days when “one guy” at a Tea Party rally with a racist sign “didn’t mean anything.”

    The “one guy”s kept on coming, didn’t they?

    To the point where the argument that it’s “one guy” is somewhat reduced.

  29. Tess says:

    @steve s:

    Exactly. Finally we’ll have someone in Congress to represent those patriotic individuals who wish to renounce the US Constitution and are willing to field illegal combatants and kill US soldiers in order to do so.

    Wait, what?

  30. CSK says:

    I’ve always thought this Tea Party business was all about secession. Not lower taxes, not smaller government. Secession.

    Good luck to all you secessionists without the money from the northeast that subsidizes your fantasies.

  31. becca says:

    Just watched some NC GOP honcho on John Stewart.


    Straight out of freakin Deliverance.

  32. Rob in CT says:


    Goddamnit, NO.

    In the Reddest of Red States, there is what, a 70/30 split? Most are closer. So you’re just going to write off 30-50% of the population of a state and leave them to the tender mercies of neoconfederate jackals with, what “so long and good luck?”

    It’s really effing easy for us to sit comfortably in safe blue states and say that. Which is why you should think about it some more. I think this is an important moral question, actually. Why is it ok to casually desert the minority (heh, in more ways than one!) populations of states whose majorities you don’t like?

  33. al-Ameda says:

    @Rob in CT:

    It’s really effing easy for us to sit comfortably in safe blue states and say that. Which is why you should think about it some more. I think this is an important moral question, actually. Why is it ok to casually desert the minority (heh, in more ways than one!) populations of states whose majorities you don’t like?

    I’m willing to pay for the relocation of those minorities and any other residents who do not want to live in the newly seceded Republic of Mississippi.

    I wouldn’t abandon them.

  34. KM says:

    @Rob in CT: No man left behind, huh? Oo-rah!

    You’re totally right. It’s not right and its not fair. Liberals pride themselves on standing up for minorities – we should extend the same to our fellows trapped behind enemy lines. We leave them to the mercy of nutcases because they’re “Texan” or “rural” or “Southern” or even “Conservative” when in reality they’re just good people who happen to live in the Land of the Cray Cray. They may love their home but fear their neighbor. They need support. Let’s give it to them.

    Fight the good fight, regardless of political leanings or territory. We may not win but dammit we can try.

  35. Rob in CT says:


    Do you actually think that’s realistic? Seriously?

  36. al-Ameda says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Do you actually think that’s realistic? Seriously?

    Okay Rob, I’ll admit it, I’m just having some fun with this (although I sometimes feel that America would have been better off without the Confederate States in the 100 years that followed the Civil War).

  37. Rob in CT says:

    I know this has become a bit of a pet peeve of mine, and I take things a bit too seriously when it comes up.

  38. john personna says:

    Speaking of how that “one guy” keeps on coming …

    Buncombe GOP Chairman Henry Mitchell said Don Yelton officially stepped down from his position Thursday.

    In a [Daily Show] segment that aired Wednesday night, Yelton blasted “lazy black people that wants the government to give them everything,” one of a slew of racially inflammatory comments he made in the interview.

  39. Nick says:

    Especially since embracing someone who frequents neo-confederate events plays directly into the larger liberal narrative about the Tea Party.

    The fact that a large portion of the Republican electorate (including GOP state office holders) are neo-confederates is mainly an issue because of… LIBRULS!! ? Wow, you really have to do some crazy mental gymnastics to be the moderate “adult in the room” Republican these days.