Mississippi tea party candidate for U.S. Senate connected to secessionists and neo-Confederates

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:51 EDT
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Tea party candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel hopes to unseat current Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in the 2014 election. According to Mother Jones magazine, McDaniel addressed a neo-Confederate ball two months ago alongside speakers who called President Abraham Lincoln a “Marxist” and alleged that the “Birther” argument about the birthplace of President Barack Obama “hasn’t really been solved.”

In spite of the tea party’s historic unpopularity with the public at large, McDaniel is hoping to topple Cochran by attacking him as insufficiently loyal to the conservative cause and the values espoused by the tea party.

Cochran has received support from Washington think tank The Club for Growth and an endorsement from the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee headed by Republican Senator turned Heritage Foundation director Jim DeMint (SC). Mother Jones‘ Tim Murphy marveled that the tea party is embracing a man who has advocated for secession and who consorts with groups and individuals who still maintain that the Confederates should have won the U.S. Civil War.

In August, McDaniel spoke at the grand ball of the 2013 Heritage Conference in Laurel, MS., an event that capped off days of costumed revelry by Civil War re-enactors and pro-Confederates. Described as a “Southern Heritage Conference” for “politically incorrect folks,” an invitation to the event urged attendees to wear “Confederate uniforms and antebellum ball gowns or wee kilties.”

The event was sponsored by the Rosin Heels, Laurel’s chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), a group whose literature declares that secession is “a [truth] of natural law and human experience.” In September, the group’s newsletter direly warned that “we are living in the times that Jefferson Davis predicted would one day come.” Secession is inevitable, the organization said, comparing the Obama presidency to the ravages of post-Civil War Reconstruction, a persecution which “(o)ur people have had to put up with for the last FIFTEEN DECADES!!!”

Mother Jones contacted the Rosin Heels’ spokesperson George Jaynes, who is the editor of its monthly newsletter. Jaynes said that McDaniel spoke at the antebellum-style ball because the state senator 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. 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.”

Other speakers at the conference included Louisiana historian Al Benson, author of the book Red Republicans and Lincoln’s Marxists. Benson posited in his work that Lincoln’s actions during the U.S. Civil War were heavily influenced by classical Marxist doctrine.

“Was Abraham Lincoln influenced by communism when the Union condemned the rights of Southern states to express their independence? It’s shocking to think so,” wrote Benson in Red Republicans. Benson calls himself a “true Copperhead,” a war-time nickname for Northerners who supported the Confederacy.

Another speaker at the conference was Ryan Walters, a University of Southern Mississippi graduate student who believed that Pres. Obama is readying tanks to invade Texas and that the “great controversy over Obama’s birth certificate” actually “hasn’t really been solved.”

Cochran — a more than 30-year Senate stalwart and solid Republican vote — earned the ire of tea partiers and other hard-right conservatives when he voted to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling earlier this month, ending the 3-week shutdown of the federal government. In spite of the effort’s lack of success at getting the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — defunded, many on the right believe that establishment Republicans didn’t fight hard enough for the effort.

[image of Chris McDaniel via Chris McDaniel for U.S. Senate's Facebook page]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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