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Slimantics: The man who wouldn't go home

 

Slim Smith

 

It's been 29 days since the Mississippi senatorial runoff election in which six-term incumbent Thad Cochran narrowly defeated tea party challenger Chris McDaniel. 

 

The catch is that Chris McDaniel still hasn't conceded the race. Instead, he is out there raising money, traveling around the state and vowing that he will challenge the results any day now. 

 

At first, McDaniel's stubborn refusal to see the writing on the wall was viewed as a natural, if unfortunate, response to a stunning loss, He had held a slight lead after the June 3 primary but not enough to capture the majority required in the three-person contest. Surely, the thinking went, McDaniel would bow out gracefully once the initial passions had cooled. Hardly. He has spent weeks leveling accusations, but has yet to provide an evidence to support them. In a word, he is little more than noise now. 

 

If Mississippians did not know Chris McDaniel before this race, they certainly know him now. 

 

He is the guy at your backyard barbecue who simply will not leave. Long after the other guests have said their goodbyes, there is McDaniel siting out there at the lone table that hasn't been cleared and stored away in the garage.  

 

Yes, McDaniel is that guy. 

 

There are some theories emerging as to why McDaniel has persisted in his quixotic campaign against reality. 

 

Last week, McDaniel began something his campaign is calling a "Truth and Justice Tour" with stops in Olive Branch, Tupelo and Pearl. The campaign's Facebook page threatens future stops, but no plans have been announced. We do know he stopped on the Coast Monday to "recharge" during a special meeting of the South Mississippi Tea Party, where members were urged to "wear a plaid shirt and jeans, Chris's official casual where (sic) to show support" and reminded members to "bring your checkbook!" 

 

So it looks as though McDaniel is recharging and will soon be out there touring again. The man is making The Grateful Dead look like home-bodies. 

 

One theory to explain this is that he just really doesn't want to give up his very cool tour bus. I saw his campaign bus when he made a brief stop at Harvey's restaurant in Columbus in mid-June. 

 

It is sometimes said that you can tell a lot about a person by what kind of vehicle they have. What I can say about McDaniel is that he really loves the U.S. Constitution because it is displayed prominently on his bus. If I had a bus, it would probably have bacon on it. It is reasonable to deduce from this that McDaniel loves the Constitution even more than bacon. You can't get much more devoted than that.  

 

So the theory goes is that McDaniel won't quit because the minute he quits, it's "goodbye, tour bus." 

 

Another theory that has emerged is that McDaniel is just really bad at math. 

 

During his tour stop in Tupelo, McDaniel was a guest on a radio show where he said of the June 3 primary, "We won the majority of the votes, we just came up a little short of the 50 percent plus one." 

 

Still don't think we need Common Core, folks? 

 

So you have the bus fetish and the math disability theories in play here. 

 

But I think the most likely explanation of all is that McDaniel simply can't think of anything better to do. 

 

He is both a state senator and an attorney, but the Legislature doesn't convene until January and lawyer work is pretty dull when compared to wearing plaid shirts and jeans and eating finger foods at tea party meetings. 

 

I think he really enjoys being a candidate and traveling up and down the state in his very cool bus. It's hard to give that sort of thing up. 

 

But there must be a more constructive use of his time and talents. 

 

Maybe they could rig a bush-hog to the bus and he could cut the grass as he tours for "truth, justice and well-kept roadways."  

 

Or maybe he could pick up few paper routes. 

 

I don't know. I'm just thinking aloud here. 

 

Let me know if you have any suggestions. This man needs something to do.

 

Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is ssmith@cdispatch.com.

 

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