Girl ‘Cured’ of HIV Has Relapsed

Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi on March 3, 2013.
Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi on March 3, 2013. Jay Ferchaud—University of Mississippi Medical Center/AP

"Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events"

A 4-year-old girl believed to have been cured of HIV showed detectable levels of the virus, federal officials said Thursday in a blow to anti-HIV efforts.

The Mississippi girl had been off of antiretroviral therapy for more than two years, and doctors believed that she could serve as a model for eradicating HIV in babies born with the virus.

But on Thursday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that researchers had found detectable HIV levels in the girl this month.

“Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care and the HIV/AIDS research community,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement.

The girl was born with HIV, and doctors administered anti-AIDS therapy nearly immediately after her birth and continued with the treatment for months. After the girl and her mother missed several treatment appointments, doctors found that the girl was still HIV-free — leading them to believe that the early treatment may have successfully eliminated the virus. Still, experts say they knew a relapse was a possibility.

Since HIV was detected in the girl this month, doctors have resumed treatment. But despite her relapse, researchers say her case still provides a valuable understanding of early HIV treatment.

“The case of the Mississippi child indicates that early antiretroviral treatment in this HIV-infected infant did not completely eliminate the reservoir of HIV-infected cells that was established upon infection but may have considerably limited its development and averted the need for antiretroviral medication over a considerable period,” Fauci said in a statement. “Now we must direct our attention to understanding why that is and determining whether the period of sustained remission in the absence of therapy can be prolonged even further.”

TIME sexuality

Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture

You are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. There is a clear line between appreciation and appropriation

I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed mutual appreciation for Beyoncé and weaves that has you thinking that I’m going to be amused by you approaching me in your best “Shanequa from around the way” voice. I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming — you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.

Let me explain.

Black people can’t have anything. Any of these things include, but aren’t limited to: a general sense of physical safety, comfort with law enforcement, adequate funding and appreciation for black spaces like schools and neighborhoods, appropriate venues for our voices to be heard about criticism of issues without our race going on trial because of it, and solid voting rights (cc: Chris McDaniel).

And then, when you thought this pillaging couldn’t get any worse, extracurricular black activities get snatched up, too: our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles. All of these things are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption. But here’s the shade — the non-black people who get to enjoy all of the fun things about blackness will never have to experience the ugliness of the black experience, systemic racism and the dangers of simply living while black. Though I suppose there’s some thrill in this “rolling with the homies” philosophy some adopt, white people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America.

White people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America.

White people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America.

Nothing about whiteness will get a white person in trouble the way blackness can get a black person shot down in his tracks. These are just facts. It’s not entirely the fault of white people. It’s not as if you can help being born white in America, any more than I can help being born black in America.

The truth is that America is a country that operates on systems of racism in which we all participate, whether consciously or unconsciously, to our benefit or to our detriment, and that system allows white people to succeed. This system also creates barriers so that minorities, such as black people, have a much harder time being able to do things like vote and get houses and not have to deal with racists and stuff. You know. Casual.

But while you’re gasping at the heat and the steam of the strong truth tea I just spilled,what’s even worse about all of this, if you thought things could get even crappier, is the fact that all of this is exponentially worse for black women. A culture of racism is bad enough, but pairing it with patriarchal structures that intend to undermine women’s advancement is like double-fisting bleach and acid rain.

At the end of the day, if you are a white male, gay or not, you retain so much privilege. What is extremely unfairly denied you because of your sexuality could float back to you, if no one knew that you preferred the romantic and sexual company of men over women. (You know what I’m talking about. Those “anonymous” torsos on Grindr, Jack’d and Adam4Adam, show very familiar heterosexual faces to the public.) The difference is that the black women with whom you think you align so well, whose language you use and stereotypical mannerisms you adopt, cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality. We have no place to hide, or means to do it even if we desired them.

In all of the ways that your gender and race give you so much, in those exact same ways, our gender and race work against our prosperity. To claim that you’re a minority woman just for the sake of laughs, and to say that the things allowed her or the things enjoyed by her are done better by you isn’t cute or funny. First of all, it’s aggravating as hell. Second, it’s damaging and perpetuating of yet another set of aggressions against us.

All of this being said, you should not have to stop liking the things you like. This is not an attempt to try to suck the fun out of your life. Appreciating a culture and appropriating one are very, very different things, with a much thicker line than some people think, if you use all of the three seconds it takes to be considerate before you open your mouth. If you love some of the same things that some black women love, by all means, you and your black girlfriends go ahead and rock the hell out. Regardless of what our privileges and lack of privileges are, regardless of the laws and rhetoric that have attempted to divide us, we are equal, even though we aren’t the same, and that is okay. Claiming our identity for what’s sweet without ever having to taste its sour is not. Breathing fire behind ugly stereotypes that reduce black females to loud caricatures for you to emulate isn’t, either.

So, you aren’t a strong black woman, or a ghetto girl, or any of that other foolery that some of you with trash Vine accounts try to be. It’s okay. You don’t have to be. No one asked you to be. You weren’t ever meant to be. What you can be, however, is part of the solution.

Check your privilege. Try to strengthen the people around you.

Sierra Mannie is a rising senior majoring in Classics and English at the University of Mississippi. She is a regular contributor to the Opinion section of the school’s student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, where this article originally appeared.

TIME 2014 Election

McDaniel Campaign Begins Legal Challenge in Mississippi GOP Primary

McDaniel delivers a concession speech in Hattiesburg
Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel delivers a speech to supporters in Hattiesburg, Miss. on June 24, 2014. Jonathan Bachman—Reuters

The Tea Party challenger says a write-in campaign is not off the table

This year’s most hotly contested Republican primary elections entered a new round of controversy Thursday morning, when the Tea Party challenger attempting to unseat incumbent Senator Thad Cochran officially initiated a challenge to the results of a runoff last week.

Insurgent candidate Chris McDaniel Thursday sent a “Notice of Intent to Challenge” to the Cochran campaign, the first step in an attempt to invalidate the election by revealing voting irregularities. Early next week the McDaniel campaign will file its official challenge with the state Republican Party, which oversees the primary election, McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch told TIME. A legal challenge in the courts will follow, Fritsch says.

“Most important in this challenge is the integrity of the election process. That’s what this is really all about,” Fritsch said. “What you have here are multiple criminal allegations, criminal misconduct.”

Cochran won a runoff against his more conservative challenger by about 6,700 votes, in part by appealing to moderates and Democrats, who were legally allowed to vote in the Republican runoff in Mississippi if they did not vote in the June 3 Democratic primary. McDaniel alleges that a significant number of Cochran votes came from Democrats who had violated that rule.

The McDaniel campaign has thus far found more than 4,900 votes it calls into question, Fritsch says. The campaign has not yet received access to records in 31 counties or to 19,000 absentee ballots, Fritsch says.

A Cochran campaign spokesman, Jordan Russell, told TIME he could not confirm the campaign had received the notice from McDaniel but called the challenge “baseless.”

“It’s not going anywhere. There’s no evidence of any wrongdoing,” Russell told TIME. “Frankly, it’s a publicity stunt, an attempt to help him to retire his campaign debt.”

Conservative activists were outraged by Cochran’s narrow victory, won with the support of Democrats after McDaniel bested the long-time Senator in the June 3 primary (neither man won more than 50% of the vote, automatically triggering the runoff). Some in conservative circles have called for McDaniel, a firebrand State Senator and former conservative radio host, to mount a write-in campaign, which may not be legally feasible under Mississippi law. A write-in effort would be good news for Democrat Travis Childers, a former congressman from Mississippi who under normal circumstances would face extremely long odds against a Republican in the deeply conservative state.

“We’ve got thousands and thousands of people telling us to do that” Fritsch said when asked if McDaniel would consider a write-in effort. “Oh no. We’re not taking any actions off the table right now.”

-With reporting from Zeke Miller

TIME 2014 Election

Last Minute Fundraising Helped Save Thad Cochran

The outlook was not bright for Sen. Thad Cochran on June 3, when he failed to win the majority vote he needed in Mississippi’s primary to secure a spot in November’s general election. Instead, he faced a runoff election on Tuesday to Tea Party challenger and State Senator, Chris McDaniel.

The race quickly became a reflection of the larger divide between establishment Republicans and Tea Party newcomers, as the GOP—still recovering from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat by Tea Party-backed Dave Brat—rallied immediately to help fill Cochran’s campaign coffers, which were hurting after the June 3 primary.

In the three weeks leading to the runoff, the GOP led a full-force fundraising effort, making it possible for Cochran to continue running television ads, and launch the large-scale get out the vote campaign that ultimately won him the race.

Chief among the GOP’s fundraising efforts was a June 10 event held by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which raised $820,000. Among the event’s donors were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, all of whom had faced Tea Party challengers in the past. Each senator donated to Cochran’s campaign committee, Citizens For Cochran, through leadership PACs of their own. Some Republicans, like Sen. Roger Wicker, even ran phone campaigns themselves.

In all, Sen. Cochran’s campaign committee leveraged its incumbent advantage, raising almost a million dollars in its final weeks, and about 2.5 million more than did Sen. McDaniel’s committee, Friends of Chris McDaniel, overall.

But the funds didn’t stop there.

Cochran also received significant contributions in the form of independent expenditures, money that organizations can spend to advocate specifically for or against a candidate, but that must be made without that candidate’s involvement.

The Chamber of Commerce, for example, spent $700,000 in Cochran’s favor, and the group Main Street Advocacy spent $100,000.

TIME 2014 Election

Tea Party Activists Eye Mississippi Write-in Campaign After Shocking Loss

Chris McDaniel addresses his supporters after falling behind in a heated GOP primary runoff election against incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran on Tuesday June 24, 2014 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, Miss. George Clark—AP

Chris McDaniel was defiant in defeat, but hasn't signaled he'll mount a long-shot write-in bid

Tea Party activists in Mississippi and beyond urged state Sen. Chris McDaniel to mount a write-in campaign against Republican Sen. Thad Cochran on Wednesday, following McDaniel’s stunning defeat in a primary runoff vote Tuesday.

“When the Republican Establishment acts like Democrats, what is the point of supporting them?” Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips wrote in an email to supporters Wednesday morning. “Every McDaniel supporter in Mississippi from DeSoto County in the North to Biloxi in the South should stand up today and tell Chris McDaniel that if he runs as a write-in candidate in November, they will support him.”

McDaniel lost in a runoff to the six-term incumbent Cochran by only about 6,000 votes, amounting to less than 2% of the total count. Many of those who pushed Cochran over the top were either Republicans who’d been unmoved to vote in the initial June 3 primary (in which McDaniel narrowly won but failed to secure the 50% needed to prevent a runoff), or Democrats who were inspired to vote for Cochran to prevent a Tea Party victory for McDaniel.

Turnout in Tuesday’s runoff was higher than in Round One, with about 55,000 more ballots cast, many of them by Democrats for Cochran. McDaniel supporters felt robbed; as their candidate took the stage at his election night watch party, the crowd chanted “Write Chris in!”

“There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” McDaniel said, clearly incensed. “Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.”

Aside from those comments, McDaniel has offered no indication that he intends to mount a write-in candidacy.

Just hours after the race was called for Cochran, a Facebook page entitled “Write-in campaign for Chris Mcdaniel” appeared online. Conservatives vented outrage on Twitter and echoed calls for a write-in campaign.

Any such effort would be a long shot, to say the least, for the McDaniel camp, but victory in the upcoming general election may not be the only goal they have in mind. The Cochran-McDaniel primary was more than a mere nominating contest, it was a proxy battle in the broader ideological war over the future of the GOP, and the conservative wing of the party is outraged. If a McDaniel write-in campaign gained enough steam, it could imperil Cochran’s otherwise easy path back to Washington, emboldening the state’s marginalized Democrats and making for an interesting three-way general election.

At least one man is thoroughly enjoying the family feud still underway in Mississippi and the prospect of a write-in McDaniel campaign.

“Clearly there was some sloppiness to say the least, and probably some failures to comply with the law,” Mississippi State Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole told Breitbart. “I listened to some of McDaniel’s speech, and in a race this close I’m sure there are irregularities that ought to be looked into.”

TIME 2014 Election

Conservatives Fume After Mississippi Defeat

Chris McDaniel victory pins are placed near other Tea Party items for sale outside his election night headquarters on June 24, 2014 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, Miss. George Clark—AP

Tea Party left wondering what went wrong

By nearly all accounts, they should have had their victory. Conventional wisdom had left Sen. Thad Cochran for dead after a close June 3 primary sent him into Tuesday’s runoff against former conservative radio host Chris McDaniel. The challenger was supposed to have an easy lift after winning more votes than Cochran in Round 1. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprise defeat by conservative upstart Dave Brat days later only reinforced that perception.

But Cochran, unbowed, expanded the electorate, bringing in Democratic voters and defeating McDaniel to almost certainly secure a seventh term in office. The results left establishment Republicans celebrating, having also beaten back Tea Party challengers in Oklahoma and upstate New York. As McDaniel refused to concede in a fiery speech decrying that “the conservative movement took a backseat to liberal Democrats in the state of Mississippi,” conservatives and Tea Party activists were left wondering where they went wrong—and seething at their defeat. The results show the success of a sweeping tide of establishment push-back following high profile upsets in Republican primaries in 2010 and 2012.

The Mississippi race pitted the National Republican Senatorial Committee, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s political machine, and outside groups like the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads against a conservative barrage from the Club for Growth and Tea Party organizations. The NRSC, Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, spent roughly $500,000 on get-out-the-vote operations for the runoff alone, with 45 NRSC staff and volunteers knocking on 50,000 doors from the initial primary until the runoff, an official said.

“If Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what’s the use in getting all gung-ho about getting Republicans in there,” Sarah Palin said on Fox News late Tuesday.

Amy Kremer, the former chair of the Tea Party Express, wrote on Twitter that the “GOP is done.”

“What just went down in Mississippi, with the GOP establishment despicably playing the race card against its own base in the U.S. Senate run-off, is a point of no return moment for conservatives in the party,” influential Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace said in a Facebook post, referring to Cochran’s courtship of black Democrats. “This is a Hemlock Society victory, with the GOP establishment essentially signing its own suicide pact. It’s unforgivable, really, and it should be. I’m going to make everyone that comes to Iowa running for president and wants my support go on the record about this. It’s a line in the sand moment. You cannot align yourself with people who treat you this way. Anybody that thinks otherwise is never going to fight the system if we elect them. These tactics in perhaps the most conservative state in the union are heinous and ought to be condemned without equivocation. If a candidate isn’t going to condemn these sorts of tactics used against us, they will not stand up for us once elected.”

And conservative activist Daniel Horowitz called Cochran’s pursuit of Democratic votes in a Republican primary “treachery.”

“Campaigning openly for Democrat votes in a GOP primary using issues and arguments contrary to the party platform is one thing,” Horowitz wrote on Breitbart. “But the fact that they played the race card and ran mailers and robo calls in African American areas accusing their own party of being racist is downright despicable.

“How much longer can a party survive when its leadership is inexorably against the ethos of its base?” Horowitz added.

In a statement Wednesday morning, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola put the defeat in the context of the group’s 10-year struggle to bring the GOP closer to conservative principles. “We are proud of the effort we made in Mississippi’s Senate race and we congratulate the winner,” he said. “We expect that Senator Cochran and others gained a new appreciation of voter frustration about the threats to economic freedom and national solvency. In light of our experience of the last ten years, we move forward even more confidently than we did the day after the 2004 Pennsylvania primary.”

Conservative political consultant Keith Appell cautioned against interpreting Tuesday’s results as a knockout punch against the Tea Party, blaming McDaniel’s failure to win the required 50% of the vote in the initial primary on a blogger who incited outrage—and sympathy for the incumbent—by strangely filming inside the nursing home housing Cochran’s ailing wife.

“Interpreting this as some kind of ‘Empire Strikes Back’ moment is an overreach,” Appell told TIME. “It’s a golden opportunity blown, to be sure, but it underscores how even a good candidate isn’t enough—he or she still has to have a competent campaign. Republican leaders and their establishment backers dodged a bullet but there is still a deep and active discontent among the grassroots and it will only continue to manifest until the leadership reconnects with its base.

“Conservatives and Tea Party activists have to take the long view, the big picture is that they’re really winning,” Appell added.

RedState founder Erick Erickson wrote that he does not back the third-party approach advocated by some. “I’m just not sure what the Republican Party really stands for any more other than telling Obama no and telling our own corporate interests yes,” he said.

“As grassroots activists feel further and further removed and alienated from the party, it will become harder and harder to win,” Erickson added. “The slaughter the GOP will inflict on the Democrats in November will be a bandaid of built in momentum. When the GOP inevitably caves on repealing Obamacare, opting instead to reform it in favor of their donors’ interests, we may just see an irreparable split. Then, and even worse, if party leaders and party base voters cannot reconcile themselves to a common candidate in 2016, God help us.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated how many terms Thad Cochran has been in the Senate.

TIME 2014 Election

Thad Cochran Beats Back Tea Party Challenger in Mississippi

A win for the GOP establishment over the Tea Party


Sen. Thad Cochran narrowly won Mississippi’s Republican primary election Tuesday, prevailing over a Tea Party challenger in a hard-fought runoff vote that was seen as a proxy for the intramural fight between the GOP establishment and conservative insurgents.

Cochran, a six-term incumbent, beat two-term state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a former talk-radio host with strong Tea Party support, by just a few thousand votes. The Associated Press called the race for Cochran a few minutes after 11 p.m. E.T. With 98.1% of precincts reporting, Cochran had 50.7% of the vote to McDaniel’s 49.3%. McDaniel had bested Cochran by a half-a-percentage point in the initial June 3 primary, but neither man won a clear majority, forcing the two into a runoff that culminated Tuesday. Cochran strategists called the June 3 primary a wake-up call for a candidate who had run a scattershot campaign up to that point.

“We all have a right to be proud of our state tonight,” Cochran told supporters Tuesday night.

“What we have tonight is reflected as a consensus for more and better jobs for Mississippi workers, a military force and the capacity to defend the security interests of the United States of America,” Cochran said. “Those were our principle… planks in the platform of the campaign.”

Cochran’s campaign had looked to expand the electorate after falling short in the runoff, heavily courting black voters and other traditionally Democratic constituencies (Democrats were allowed to vote in the runoff Tuesday if they hadn’t voted in the June 3 Democratic primary). That strategy — Cochran strategists called Democratic turnout a key factor in the narrow race — drew outrage from McDaniel supporters and promises to monitor polling places for any shenanigans. McDaniel did not concede Tuesday night and quickly tried to cast doubt on the outcome. He claimed there were “dozens of irregularities” in voting across the state and went so far as to suggest that he may bring a legal challenge. Mississippi state law does not include a recount provision, leaving McDaniel with the courts as his only — however unlikely — recourse.

“There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” McDaniel told supporters. “Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.

“So much for bold colors. So much for principle,” he added. “I guess [we] can take some consolation in the fact that they did something tonight. By once again compromising. By once again reaching across the aisle. By once again abandoning the conservative movement. … Today the conservative movement took the backseat to liberal Democrats in the state of Mississippi.”

The nominating contest drew national attention as it developed along clear ideological lines between conservative Tea Party activists supporting McDaniel and GOP establishment figures backing Cochran, mirroring the wider civil war boiling in the party. An incumbent with decades of experience in Washington, Cochran earned a reputation in his career for bringing federal dollars into Mississippi, something for which McDaniel supporters labeled him the “King of Pork.”

The election drew millions of dollars in outside spending from national entities like the conservative Club for Growth and Sarah Palin for McDaniel, and the Chamber of Commerce and John McCain for Cochran. The race also took some nasty turns, as voters were inundated with accusations and counter-accusations that flew back and forth in negative ads. At one point, a group of McDaniel supporters were caught taking pictures of Cochran’s ailing wife in a nursing home.

Cochran will go on to face Democrat Travis Childers in November’s general election. Though weakened after a drawn out, internecine battle, Cochran, who has more than 40 years under his belt as a Mississippi politician, is likely to emerge victorious in the deeply conservative state.

— Additional reporting by Zeke J Miller

TIME 2014 Election

Democrats Urged Not to Save a Mississippi Republican

Chris McDaniel Mississippi
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel speaks during a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Miss. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Sen. Thad Cochran hopes Democratic votes can prevent his loss to a Tea Party challenger

Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran hopes Democrats can save him from the Tea Party in Tuesday’s primary runoff, but the state Democratic leader is urging voters to sit this one out.

“I’m encouraging Democrats to stay out of the Republican primary,” state Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole told TIME, “simply because I believe that party primaries should be an opportunity for the party faithful to pick their candidate for the general election.”

Cochran placed just behind state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the June 3 primary, and polls leading up to Tuesday’s runoff don’t bode well for the six-term incumbent; the Real Clear Politics poll average has McDaniel leading Cochran by 6.3 points. A longtime Washington operator, Cochran hopes his relatively moderate politics and well-established record of bringing federal dollars into Mississippi will convince Democrats to cast a vote for the devil they know to block the devil they don’t. In Mississippi’s open primary system, voters can cast ballots in either party’s primary election so long as they do not vote in both, meaning only Democrats who didn’t vote in the Democratic primary can cast ballots in the runoff.

In response to Cochran’s push for Democratic votes, McDaniel supporters, including groups like Freedom Works and Tea Party Patriots, have pledged to bring in “election observers” to, they say, “observe whether the law is being followed.”

That strategy, which some say bears a discomforting resemblance to voter intimidation, could initiate a clash with state officials. In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the Mississippi attorney general and secretary of state said official state observers would be deployed to polling places for the runoff elections. “There is no authority in state law for a PAC or other outside group to place ‘election observers’ in Mississippi polling places,” they said.

If anything, Democrats have reason to hope for a win by the more conservative McDaniel. The last Democratic Senator from Mississippi retired in 1989, and the state’s last competitive Senate race in a non-presidential election year was in 1982. A McDaniel victory could open up space in the ideological middle and give Democrat Travis Childers—a former congressman who leans more conservative some Republicans in bluer states—an opportunity no Democrat has seen in decades.

“It will be easier to raise money if McDaniel is the Republican nominee,” Cole conceded. The Democratic leader is already positioning Childers as an alternative to McDaniel, describing him to TIME as “no wild-eyed radical and certainly no newcomer to politics.”

Still, he said, this rough-and-tumble primary has likely weakened both candidates. Even if Cochran manages a win he’ll be hobbled come November.

“This boy in his second term as a Mississippi state senator sure is giving him a run for his money,” Cole said. “He doesn’t look nearly as invincible now as he did last fall.”

TIME republicans

Mississippi Senate Runoff Turns Into Battle for the Soul of the GOP

Chris McDaniel
State Sen. Chris McDaniel speaks with the media before voting at the George Harrison Building, June 24, 2014, in Ellisville, Miss. Bryant Hawkins—AP

The runoff vote today between Sen. Thad Cochran and State Sen. Chris McDaniel is a microcosm of the internal feud within the Republican Party

An aging insider, a firebrand insurgent, a mysterious break-in and illicit photographs. If John Grisham wrote a Southern potboiler to illustrate the battle waging over the soul of the Republican Party, the storyline might look like this year’s Mississippi GOP’s Senate primary, which ends in a runoff on Tuesday.

The 76-year-old six-term incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, who comfortably won re-election virtually uncontested for decades, has been brought to his knees by conservative former talk-radio host and state senator Chris McDaniel, a 41-year-old relative political neophyte with a penchant for blistering rhetoric.

In the closing weeks of the campaign leading up to and following the June 3 primary, which led to Tuesday’s runoff after neither man secured more than half the vote, the campaigns took a particularly nasty turn. Four men, including a local Tea Party official, were caught taking pictures of Senator Cochran’s wife Rose, who lives with dementia in a nursing home. The pictures were reportedly used in a video that accuses Cochran of marital infidelity. Then Cochran released a negative ad tying the men, without hard evidence, to McDaniel’s campaign, which McDaniel called “shameless” in his own ads. In the early morning June 4, after election night, McDaniel supporters were found locked in the courthouse in Jackson for reasons that remain unclear.

That the campaign took a turn for the weird shouldn’t be especially surprising, considering what’s at stake.

After failing to knock off incumbent Republicans in a string of early primaries, Tea Party supporters pointed to the stunning defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th District as evidence that they’re still in the game. But insurgent Dave Brat’s victory in that race was shocking partly because so few people were paying attention. Not a few observers blamed Cantor’s loss largely on his personal unpopularity at home.

Contrast that with the closely watched and fiercely contested battle for Cochran’s seat. Ever since McDaniel eked out a victory over Cochran in Round 1 of the primary, the race has become a blockbuster political event. This has not been a campaign of nuance and split hairs but an ideologically clear divide between an old-school political operator who has served his state and curried favor by dipping freely into the federal treasury and an opponent openly and aggressively opposed to exactly that brand of politics.

McDaniel supporters hammered Cochran as the “King of Pork” for his success at finagling federal dollars for cash-strapped Mississippi — and Cochran accepted the charge with pride, betting that residents of a state that receives more federal largesse per tax dollar than most would reward him for bringing home the bacon.

“What is one man’s definition of pork is another man’s definition of progress,” says Hayes Dent, a Republican political strategist in the state who volunteered with the Cochran campaign after the June 3 debacle. But clearly Cochran’s pork bet hasn’t paid out as he’d have liked. “It’s an anti-D.C. mood, and that certainly does not work in the favor of a guy like Thad Cochran.”

The race has the feel of an Alamo moment for the Republican establishment, which has poured $5.8 million in outside cash into Cochran’s campaign while outside groups have raised $5.7 million for McDaniel. The septuagenarian Cochran is a politician of the old school if ever there was one, and if the Tea Party helps topple him it will have unambiguously achieved what it tried to claim credit for after Cantor’s loss.

The fallout of this primary could end up being bad for the party, no matter who wins. After a bruising election that will leave whoever emerges weakened in the general election, Mississippi Democrats are looking to pounce in what could be the first competitive U.S. Senate election in the state in decades, when Democratic candidate and former Mississippi Congressman Travis Childers faces the Republican in November. “I’m scared to death that we’ll lose this in the fall,” Dent says.

Democrats are hoping more moderate voters will throw their support to Childers, a conservative Democrat, should ultra-conservative McDaniel win. But even if Cochran succeeds, Mississippi Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole says the GOP’s bitter civil war could translate into high Democratic turnout.

The conventional wisdom says electing a Democrat to the Senate in deep-red Mississippi is a long shot at the very least, but lately, as Cole said, “conventional wisdom has been on vacation in Mississippi.”

TIME 2014 Election

Primaries Pit Parties’ Old Guard Against New

Thad Cochran Primary Election
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, greets supporters at a pre-election day rally at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson, Miss., on June 2, 2014. Joe Ellis—AP

The headlines scream of surreptitious videos, nasty intramural spats and Silicon Valley influence peddlers. But among the eight states holding primary elections on Tuesday, the two marquee contests can be distilled to a simple choice: whether Republican and Democratic primary voters decide to jettison the old guard for a taste of the future.

In Mississippi’s Republican Senate primary, incumbent Thad Cochran’s seat is the Tea Party’s best remaining shot this year to topple an incumbent. A six-term incumbent with a patrician’s manner and a taste for pork-barrel spending, Cochran, 76, can seem like a relic of a different era. He has served Mississippi in the Senate since the Carter administration, and his skill at securing federal dollars for this cash-strapped state is borne out by the facilities across it that bear his name. He has said he doesn’t “really know a lot” about the Tea Party movement that has been shaking up the GOP for five years running now.

In normal times, Cochran’s earmarking prowess and Washington clout might have made him a model senator. This year it makes him big game for RINO-hunting groups across the GOP’s right wing. And if Cochran is an icon of the party’s past, his insurgent challenger is an emblem of the party’s new regime. Chris McDaniel, a 41-year-old state senator, disdains earmarks and has skirted some questions about whether he would have voted for a relief bill that ameliorated the damages of Hurricane Katrina. He presents himself as a pure conservative, and makes clear that he would eschew the federal dollars on which Cochran—the ranking member on the Senate appropriations committee—has partially staked his re-election. “I’m not going to do anything for you,” McDaniel told a local audience recently. “I’m going to get the government off your back, then I’m gonna let you do it for yourself.”

While the personalities and the politics are different, the juxtaposition between old and new is equally stark in Tuesday’s primary in California’s 17th Congressional District. Since 2001, the Bay Area region has been represented by Democrat Mike Honda. Like Cochran, Honda is a popular septuagenarian with support from his party’s traditional base. As such, he also became the target of a hostile takeover attempt from a group that may represent the party’s next generation.

The 17th district encompasses swaths of Silicon Valley, and tech titans like Sean Parker, Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg have plowed cash into the campaign account of a challenger they hope will better represent the industry’s interests. That candidate, 37-year-old Ro Khanna, has drafted some of the same bundlers and data whizzes who powered President Barack Obama to reelection. An Ivy league-educated intellectual property lawyer, Khanna is the kind of centrist technocrat that Silicon Valley—and the Democratic Party that increasingly relies on its largesse—has come to prize.

Honda has the edge in name recognition, the support of labor unions and a long record that resonates in the district. But if Khanna survives Tuesday’s “jungle” primary—in which the top two vote-getters regardless of party move to the general election—he could prove a disruptive political force come November.

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