With the conclusion of political speeches at the Neshoba County Fair, one theme tied many speeches together, the divide in the Republican Party.
There was a sea of faces at the Neshoba County Fair, but regardless of party affiliation, everyone seems to support what Mississippi's Speaker of the House, Philip Gunn, shared at the podium. Gunn says, “There's a matter I think is of more critical importance that we need to discuss. It's the 800 pound gorilla that is under the pavilion and nobody seems to want to talk about it.”
That 800 pound gorilla is the divide in the Republican Party, caused by the U.S. Senate runoff race between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel. Gunn also says, “This divide must be healed, for the health of the party and more importantly, the health of our state. We've got to meet this issue head on and we've got to find a way to bring unity back to our party.”
Gunn and other Republican leaders say the problem isn't the ideological differences between Cochran and McDaniel, but is that the party isn't moving forward. A house divided will not stand, which is why in his speech Thursday, Cochran made a plea for voters to put the runoff behind them and focus on the general election. Cochran says, “Whether you voted for me or not in the primary, I'm now asking everyone to join together. Let’s unite so we can win in November.”
With little showing from Tea Party supporters at the fair, and no appearance from McDaniel, Republicans seem optimistic the battle over was finally over, but Friday, another twist arose in the ongoing political battle. McDaniel announced he will be holding a press conference Monday. McDaniel says, "To announce a major development regarding the results of the June 24 runoff election."
Cochran officially accepted the Republican Party's nomination at the fair Thursday, but just how the story ends remains to be seen. Friday, the Mississippi Tea Party also demanded Lamar Alexander refund $5,000 he donated to a super P.A.C. supporting Senator Cochran's reelection.