by Alan Lange
Something is happening.
The dynamics are very 2014-ish (for those that remember the 2014 Republican primary for US Senate).
Folks on the lower end of the economic spectrum of the party opposite the sitting President are hopping mad (this time mainly at Donald Trump).
The establishment candidates from their own Democrat party are not adequately connecting with them.
Of course, money isn’t the issue for Howard Sherman. He stroked himself $500K that we know of (based off FEC reports). The money he’s raised outside his own bank account has come almost entirely from out of state. Hollywood (33%) and the Big Apple (22%) are the biggest sources of the 99% of money he’s raised from out of state from folks other than Howard Sherman. And the big money donors for Sherman share precious little in common with the folks Sherman is most targeting.
Sherman does have a 100 day plan. First bullet point? Corn chips. You heard me . . . corn chips. Sherman on his website is touting a potential 1,000 job corn chip facility in the Mississippi Delta.
In the age of Trump, anything is plausible.
Democrats in the establishment have largely been pushing back on Sherman. “He’s not from here . . . . this is the first time he’s voted in Mississippi . . . this is the first time he’s voted as a Democrat . . . he lived in a $40 million mansion.” For the most part, that’s all arguably true. The question is does any of it stick among rank-and-file Mississippi Democrats?
For his part, Baria has locked down the party establishment. Bennie Thompson, most legislative Democrats (save Omeria Scott), the Mississippi Democratic Trust, the Indivisible/Bernie types, the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO, and of course the trial lawyers are all in for Baria. Puff pieces from the Clarion Ledger and the Mississippi Today have been fawning. Normally, that advantage would give a candidate a hammerlock on a Democratic statewide nomination. Baria has run a very by-the-numbers, albeit relatively low budget campaign. He’s gotten endorsements and touched all the party bosses. His money has come largely from in-state (89% to be exact, albeit a huge volume of trial lawyers) and it seems pretty disbursed around the state.
But looking at the vote totals from June 6, Sherman (now with an endorsement from Rep. Omeria Scott) is threatening to completely upend the mainstream Democrats in Mississippi.
She won 20 counties. Sherman won over 35.
Die hard media Democrats are in full panic. 68% of Mississippi Democrats didn’t vote for Baria in light of all of that advantage. They’ve got less than two weeks to right the ship and find a way to connect to the folks in the campaign that didn’t vote for Baria the first time around. If for some reason, with the entirety of the Democrat establishment behind him, Baria doesn’t win, it will signal a complete realignment of the state Democrat party.
Bennie Thompson in particular is going to have to activate his network quickly. Sherman and Scott together ran up the score in the 2nd Congressional District. Having his name, as the state’s most recognizable and popular Democrat, be attached to Baria and him losing would signal a tectonic shift in the state Democrat party.
In fact, Thompson seems to have found religion after having said in January the following – “You can’t chase the minority white vote and expect the majority African-American vote to just follow. They could either skip the race or stay at home.”
So far, it looks like the outside media team that Sherman has hired (namely Joe Trippi of Al Gore fame) is getting the better of Baria’s home grown campaign efforts.
The establishment/anti-establishment fault lines could not be more perfectly drawn in this race.
Turnout will likely be low (really low) for the Democrat primary runoff because there won’t be anything else on the ballot other than Baria and Sherman. 25,000-30,000 votes will likely win this runoff. Baria will need to completely empty his bank account and the establishment will need to fire all of their bullets to get Baria’s folks back out to the polls to get past Sherman.
Expect sparks to fly the last 10 days.