Rush Limbaugh: Black ‘Uncle Toms’ Helped Defeat Mississippi Tea Party Candidate

FILED TO: Headline Articles

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) won a hotly contested primary run-off election Tuesday against tea party challenger State Sen. Chris McDaniel, and the conservative entertainment complex is pissed. Glenn Beck actually fired a rifle on his show to illustrate his disgust. Sarah Palin threatened to leave the Republican Party. Laura Ingraham accused Cochran of “race-baiting.” McDaniel himself refused to concede. But the most ironic, racially-charged and whiny reaction came from Rush Limbaugh.

We’ll swing back to Limbaugh’s remarks presently, but it turns out that Cochran won due to a not insignificant number of African-Americans and Democrats voting for the GOP incumbent in the open primary, ostensibly because Cochran convinced them they probably don’t want an extreme tea party candidate walking away with Cochran’s Senate seat. It bears repeating that it was an open primary, which means it’s perfectly legal to vote in any primary irrespective of party.

FiveThirtyEight confirmed that by courting Democrats and African-Americans, Cochran was able to boost his turnout numbers just enough to top McDaniel, 51 percent to 49 percent.

About 375,000 voters showed up Tuesday compared with 318,904 on June 3, an increase of more than 17 percent. Cochran raised his vote total by more than 38,000 votes, while McDaniel pulled in only an additional 30,000. That was more than enough to erase McDaniel’s 1,386 vote lead in the first round.

Cochran’s campaign explicitly tried to increase his turnout in the runoff by bringing Democratic-leaning African-Americans to the polls. […] we have county-level results to go on, and that data suggests that traditionally Democratic voters provided Cochran with his margin of victory.

And now the right-wing freakout kind of makes sense. It was the blacks! Or “the black Uncle Tom voters,” as Rush Limbaugh said on his Wednesday show. Yes, more than anyone else, Limbaugh was spitting angry about Cochran squeaking out a victory with the help of “Uncle Toms for Thad.” Limbaugh went on to describe how African-Americans gave Cochran “a corrupt and undeserved victory.”

So the Washington establishment, both parties, distribute a flyer claiming the tea party wanted to prevent blacks from voting on Tuesday. This, combined with other efforts, secured a turnout of black Democrat voters in a Republican primary that gave Thad Cochran, in my view, a corrupt and undeserved victory.

Oh, boo-hoo. It’s politics, and guess what? Not only is it perfectly legal for Democrats to vote Republican in an open primary and vice versa, but it was Rush Limbaugh who popularized this very thing during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.

I’m old enough to remember something called “Operation Chaos.”

After Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was a lock for the GOP nomination, Limbaugh launched a daily broadcast effort to flummox then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign because, he said, he wanted a “bloodied” Democratic nominee to face McCain in the general election. So he decided it would be most-excellent if Republican voters in open primaries cast their ballots for Obama’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

Here’s Limbaugh on Fox News Channel describing his plan to Laura Ingraham back in February, 2008:

Texas is open. And I want Hillary to stay in this, Laura. This is too good a soap opera. We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically, and it’s obvious that the Republicans are not going to do it and don’t have the stomach for it.

As you probably know, we’re getting all kinds of memos from the RNC saying not to be critical there. Mark MacKinnon of McCain’s campaign says he’ll quit if they get critical over Obama.

This is the presidency of the United States you’re talking about. I want our party to win. I want the Democrats to lose. They’re in the midst of tearing themselves apart right now. It is fascinating to watch, and it’s all going to stop if Hillary loses.

So yes, I’m asking to cross over and, if they can stomach it — I know it’s a difficult thing to do to vote for a Clinton — but it will sustain this soap opera, and it’s something I think we need. It would be fun, too.

In a few primaries Operation Chaos actually worked. Here’s what The Huffington Post reported about the results of the open primary in, wait for it, Mississippi — home of Thad Cochran and his “Uncle Toms”:

Obama’s victory would have been even more overwhelming in Mississippi (and he might have won the popular vote in Texas) if not for the “Limbaugh effect”: Republicans voting in the Democratic primary in order to undermine Barack Obama and help John McCain.

Approximately 25% of Clinton’s voters in Mississippi were Republicans voting for a candidate they hate in order to try to undermine Barack Obama. Obama’s 61-37 margin of victory in Mississippi would have been around 70-30 without Clinton’s Republican voters, and Obama would have easily expanded his delegate win there from 19-14 to 24-9.

What a surprise that this Operation Chaos might blow back against Limbaugh and his people. It’s symptomatic of a party that only seems to pursue short-term while risking long term repercussions. Time and time again, the GOP has engaged in tactics that could easily bite the Republicans in the ass sometime in the not-too-distant future.

In fact, they’re doing it right now with the ridiculous lawsuit against President Obama over his use of Executive Orders. In other circumstances, they’ve exponentially increased the number of filibusters to historic highs. There’s also the serial brinksmanship with the debt limit. They’ve even tossed defunding of the entire executive branch onto the table for future Democrats to pick up and exploit. These are all kneejerk tactical blunders, each one destined to haunt them for years to come.

As for Limbaugh, the inventor of Operation Chaos, he can feel free to shut the hell up now.


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  • LeShan Jones

    When it comes to fat boy, all you ever need is this;

  • Ted40

    Race baiting is what this clown does naturally (and frankly enjoys) and when the shit hits the fan he blames those calling him out on his race baiting as being hypocritical or uses the it-was-satire excuse. This is who he is.

  • Christopher Foxx

    These are all kneejerk tactical blunders

    Nothing tactical about it. They’re all simply the actions of spoiled toddlers who throw hissy fits any time they don’t get everything they want.

  • missliberties

    Can someone somewhere say that government is good. Well Thad Cochran did. And the black people who voted for him know it to be true.

    Imagine if McDaniels had won, since ole Miss relies on so many federal dollars to support the state.

  • Draxiar

    Even flies won’t land on the shit in Limbaugh’s head.

  • Brutlyhonest

    They loves them some cross-party primary voting, until they don’t. They could “fix” it like Virginia did by skipping a primary and appointing someone.

  • bbiemeret

    How did Mittens put it? Oh yeah, “Sauce for the goose…”

  • ChrisAndersen

    I’d forgotten about Operation Chaos. The hypocrisy of Limbaugh is hardly surprising.

  • beulahmo

    Wow, Bob. I wasn’t aware that Limbaugh’s “operation chaos” thing was ever seriously analyzed for the effect it had on Democratic primaries. I was in Texas and so thrilled to actually be voting in a primary before the nomination, I’d never had to worry about shenanigans like that until then.

  • Norbrook

    Obviously, they’re shocked. I mean … black people voting in Mississippi? When did that happen? /snark

    Besides the schadenfreude of their own tactics turning against them, although one might point out that Cochran did actively encourage it, it’s a good demonstration of the core racism at the heart of the Tea Party movement. All of their fig leaf “horror” at it being pointed out aside.

    • Christopher Foxx

      I wonder if, looking a bit longer term, it would have been better for folks to vote for McDaniel. The more extreme candidate would be easier to beat in the general election.

      I figured that is the actual smart play where there are open primaries. Vote for the person you think it will be the easiest for your candidate to beat.

      • Sean Richardson

        nonono, bad idea. Anything can happen between now and November. The Democratic candidate drops out for some reason and all of a sudden you’ve got a Tea Party guy guaranteed a seat.

        You should vote in an open primary for the candidate who you are most comfortable with being in charge if they win, the same with any vote. Anything else might work once or twice, but it is a dangerous road to walk and sooner or later you will get hit by a semi.

      • Norbrook

        The assumption built into that is that Democrats have not only a viable candidate, but one who is competitive enough in a general election that a few votes (or small percentage) of voters swing it to them because of the “complete nutjob” running on the Republican ticket.

        Unfortunately, that is not a safe assumption, and it would mean complete nutjob is going to be around for 6 years. See: Rand Paul.

      • JozefAL

        I’m guessing you don’t live in the South or you don’t live in a solid-red state. Mississippi hasn’t had a Democratic Senator since 1988. Cochran has been incredibly safe since his first election in 1978 (he didn’t win a majority then because there were a major independent candidate who probably split the Democrats–the independent candidate was Charles Evers, the first African-American mayor of a Mississippi city since Reconstruction–but still led the Democratic candidate by more than 13 points). In 1984, he won by 20 points, and in 1990, he had NO opposition (from anyone). In 1996, he won by more than 40 points and in 2002, his only opponent in the general election came from the Reform Party–Cochran demolished him by nearly 70 points. And in 2008, he was able to beat his Democratic opponent by more than 20 points (Cochran won more than 723K votes while Erik Fleming, the Democrat, picked up just under 450K; in the Presidential race, McCain won just under 725K and Obama got 554K).

        Oh. Doing a little research into the Democratic side of the primary contest, it seems that the #2 vote-getter in the Dem primary just happened to be the GOP candidate for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional district in 2010 AND 2012. (Oh. He just happens to be African-American as well. Wonder what Limbaugh thinks about THAT?)

        But the main point is that when you live in a district or state that is solidly on one side or the other and you feel you want some say in the election of the (likely) eventual officeholder, you are probably going to vote–especially in an open primary state.

        As a sidenote, in 2008 the other Senate seat was also up for grabs (a special election to fill out Trent Lott’s term). The “incumbent,” GOPer Roger Vicker, had been appointed in January of 2008 and had to run for the seat that year. Since it was a special election, it was technically a non-partisan election; anyone with the resources could have run, regardless of party (multiple GOPers, multiple Dems, independents, etc–it didn’t matter) but, ultimately it was a race between Vicker and Democrat Ronnie Musgrove. In the election, Vicker got 649K votes while Musgrave (who just happened to be white–not a factor here, mind you) got 525K votes (but you can compare his numbers to the other two Democrats mentioned).

    • Sean Richardson

      It isn’t even their own tactic. Rush knew that Hillary couldn’t win, and Rush’s voters didn’t want her to win. They just wanted her to stay in the race and bloody Obama more and more. (This was at a point when more and more liberals were calling for Hillary to drop out so that Obama could concentrate on the election rather than primary.)

      In this case, the primaries are open, and the liberals and Democrats who supposedly crossed over (note: Little to no proof this actually happened, but let’s be charitable to Rush and assume he’s correct) were actually voting for the candidate that was closer to their own views. That’s how voting should work. No dirty trick to that at all. Even if you want to open up their strategy to just voting for somebody they think is more likely to lose the general election, that would still be the opposite of what they did here.

  • General Sherman

    What a bunch of nuts!

  • GOVCHRIS1988
    • Kennet

      Ha! I know that Matt Byrd. Random pull from Google?

  • Redhand

    When I saw the picture of “El Rushbo” at the top of the post, all I could think of was “Snowball” and “Napoleon” in Animal Farm.” Seriously, is there human being on earth who looks more like a self-satisfied hog than Limbaugh?

  • Sean Richardson

    Every primary should be open. It allows for dirty tricks like “Operation Chaos” but, at the same time, the person who is ultimately elected is supposed to represent the entire district/state/country. It should be the Republican who best represents the entirety of his/her constituency vs the Democrat who does the same, not the ones who are the most rabid and partisan and appealing to just enough of their base to squeak through.

    • bbiemeret

      You may be on to something here. Who knows, but I like it.

    • Churchlady320

      It doesn’t work out well, though. We are a two party system. That locks us into serious consideration of POLICY, and there is no reason to have a system that just succumbs to chaos as these examples have shown. It’s one thing for independents to vote in a party primary. It’s another to let insanity and these kinds of uproar to dominate. Party sympathies are much easier today anyway – the choices are stark. But open primaries just invite chaos and actually undermine accountability since the candidate will hardly feel beholden to the crossover voters. Just watch – Cochran will NOT moderate a single position for the well being of Black voters.

      • Christopher Foxx

        Just watch – Cochran will NOT moderate a single position for the well being of Black voters

        Which is why it was fairly self-harming for them to vote for him. When given a chance to help determine who the other side will run in the general election, try to make it as extreme a candidate as possible, the one with the least appeal in a general election.

      • Sean Richardson

        What chaos? What insanity? And how can accountability possibly be more undermined by allowing people to vote for a specific candidate rather than blocking them from the vote entirely?

        “Just watch – Cochran will NOT moderate a single position for the well being of Black voters.”

        The point isn’t that he will moderate his positions, the point is that his positions are already, without moderation, more in line with the voters’.

    • JozefAL

      Sean. I live in Alabama. We experienced our own little “Operation Chaos” in 1986. Google “1986 Alabama governor’s race” and see what led to Alabama’s electing the FIRST GOP governor since Reconstruction. (The 2010 GOP primary for governor had its own fair share of unusual drama that really backfired for one particular lobbying group. But that’s another story.)

    • muselet

      Every primary should be open.

      California has an open primary. It’s been a not-unmixed blessing.

      Third parties hate it because only the top two candidates advance. The majors are wary of it because it favors the party that has the fewer number of candidates running (a plurality-D district will have to choose between two Rs in November because there were two Rs and five Ds running in the primary). And—despite the promises made by sponsors of the ballot proposition that created it—there’s no evidence that an open primary encourages moderation in the candidates, at least not after two goes.

      I imagine the rules could be tweaked to make an open primary work as advertised. Until someone figures out how, though, I’ll continue to consider the idea an interesting utopian fantasy.


  • DubsCorleone

    Rush Limbaugh can go to hell (if the devil will have him), and take _________(fill in the blank with your choice of any Republican) with him

  • formerlywhatithink

    Hypocrisy and ignorance from Rush? Must be a day that ends wit ha “Y”.

  • Toolymegapoopoo

    Wait, you mean to tell me the drug-addicted, wife-cheating, former welfare recipient who preaches about the GOP as the party of morality and condemns those who receive government assistance is a hypocrite?!?! Mind = blown.

  • trgahan

    “…a corrupt and undeserved victory.”

    Since 2000 has there been any other kind of conservative victory?
    Sorry Rush, there is no bigger insult to a conservative male than getting outsmarted by a minority. But you and your listeners totally not racist, I know.


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