Cochran-McDaniel Race Enters the Twilight Zone

“You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”


Even the great Rod Serling could not have penned a script so outrageously bizarre as what has occurred in the aftermath of the Mississippi Republican primary for Senator.

Incumbent Thad Cochran and Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel could be headed for a runoff later this month. Early Wednesday  morning, 3 McDaniel supporters — including a paid staffer — were found locked in the Hinds County Courthouse. When department personnel showed up in response to a call from one of the McDaniel supporters at 3:45 AM, they had been locked in with no security guards for at least 4 hours.

What might have been a sheepish moment for the staffers takes an interesting turn when you consider that there were tens of thousands of ballots in the courthouse that were cast on Tuesday. Not a laughing matter to be sure.

The Hinds County Sheriff assured the Jackson Clarion Ledger that the votes had been secured and that it didn’t appear that there was any tampering. Indeed, Phillip Bump of the Washington Post tells  us that turnout patterns and the number of votes cast in Hinds County is in line with two adjoining counties.

Here’s the problem; the three McDaniel supporters are telling conflicting stories of what they were doing there.

Here’s the story as reported by the Clarion Ledger:

The Hinds County Sheriff’s Department is investigating why three people, including a high-ranking Chris McDaniel campaign official, were found locked in the Hinds County Courthouse in Jackson hours after an election official says the building was closed early Wednesday morning.

Hinds County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Othor Cain said investigators are trying to figure out how Janis Lane, Scott Brewster and Rob Chambers entered the courthouse. They were inside until about 3:45 a.m., Cain said.

Brewster is a former coordinator of presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s Mississippi operation and is currently McDaniel’s campaign coalition coordinator.

“There are conflicting stories from the three of them, which began to raise the red flag, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it,” Cain said. “No official charges have been filed at this point, but we don’t know where the investigation will lead us.”

Brewster’s name popped up during the first days after conservative political blogger Clayton Kelly was arrested and charged in a photo scandal involving U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife, Rose. Kelly was accused of sneaking into Rose Cochran’s Madison nursing home and taking photos of her for a political video.

After Kelly’s arrest, three other McDaniel supporters were charged with conspiracy in connection with the nursing home case. Those include state tea party leader and attorney Mark Mayfield and a former radio talk show co-host of McDaniel’s.

After The Clarion-Ledger broke the news of Kelly’s arrest, Brewster said he was aware of the video.

“I do remember when it came out,” he said. “I think people made some calls (to have it removed). I didn’t personally — nobody personally talked (to Kelly). I don’t know if anybody made phone calls about it. I’m not sure. Just, I remember all of a sudden it was gone.”

However, after Brewster’s comment, McDaniel and other campaign leaders said they knew nothing about the video.


Another question: Did the three McDaniel supporters break in after the building was already locked up or were they let into the building with the permission of “uniformed personnel” as they claim?

A sheriff’s department spokesman refutes claims by the Chris McDaniel camp that three staffers were let into the courthouse by “uniformed personnel” sometime after it closed late election night.

Janis Lane, Scott Brewster, and Rob Chambers were found locked inside the Hinds County Courthouse early Wednesday morning. They allegedly gained access to the courthouse sometime shortly after 2 a.m., and when they realized they were locked in, they called Hinds County Republican Executive Chairman Pete Perry to ask for help. They were let out around 3:45 a.m.

Brewster is a former coordinator of presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s Mississippi operation and is currently McDaniel’s campaign coalition coordinator.

Lane is a member of the board of directors of the Central Mississippi Tea Party. She is among tea party leaders who claimed Nosef was supporting Cochran for the primary and called for his resignation.

Chambers is a consultant with the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission who has worked with McDaniel and members of the Senate Conservative Coalition to fight Common Core.

The courthouse was locked down when all elections personnel left around 11:30 p.m., Cain said.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour referenced recent election controversy in which conservative blogger Clayton Kelly allegedly went uninvited into a nursing home and took photos of Cochran’s bedridden wife at the direction of three other Tea Party members.

“The McDaniel campaign, they seem to always be on the wrong side of a door,” said former Gov. Haley Barbour. “Have you ever heard of a group of people who were in places they weren’t supposed to be more often?”

The McDaniel campaign issued a statement late Wednesday deflecting the situation as an attack by Perry, who they accuse of being a close Cochran supporter, and stating that the three got in when they were directed to an open door by “uniformed personnel.”

Hinds County Sheriff’s Department does work security for the courthouse, but only during business hours, said spokesman Othor Cain. During an election, off-duty deputies are hired by the elections commissioners to work security, but at the time Lane, Brewster, and Chambers allegedly gained access to the courthouse, all security would have been long gone.

“It’s a fabrication that someone pointed them to a door. I think that’s a total misrepresentation of fact,” Cain said. “None of our guys let anybody in.”


The Clarion Ledger doesn’t mention it but was there evidence pertaining to the blogger photo case inside that courthouse?  I only speculate because of the Tea Party connection in both cases, and the fact that the alleged suspects can’t get their stories straight and have lied about how they were able to enter the courthouse.

What’s next in this race? Aliens endorsing Cochran?





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