Facing Resignation Calls, Mississippi GOP Chairman Dubs Tea Party Leaders 'Fanatical'
The chairman of the Mississippi GOP, Joe Nosef, reacted angrily to Tea Party groups calling for his resignation this week, accusing one local activist of secretly working to elect Democrats and saying some “fanatical” Tea Party groups could jeopardize the GOP's hold on a senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the nation, according to emails obtained by Breitbart News.
In the emails, Joe Nosef, the chairman of the Mississippi Republican party, told Mississippi Tea Party president Janis Lane that “help[ing] Democrats win...appears to be your goal.”
Nosef also emailed to a list of Republicans that the groups calling for his head were so crazy they could imperil the GOP's hold on Sen. Thad Cochran's senate seat.
“These people are getting so fanatical [that] this will put everything in danger regardless of who wins” the upcoming GOP primary, he wrote, adding, “I refuse to continue to spend time dealing with these people.”
The incendiary emails – and their being leaked to Breitbart News by an anonymous source – are the latest escalations in an erupting primary battle that pits the Yazoo City machine of lobbyist Haley Barbour and veteran appropriator Cochran against the upstart state senator Chris McDaniel and the conservative outside groups that are pouring in resources to support him.
After Lane called for Nosef's resignation Monday over negative comments Nosef made about McDaniel in national media, a series of local Tea Party groups followed suit.
But Nosef, in comments to Breitbart News Tuesday, called the mounting calls for him to quit “silliness.”
“I have probably received more encouragement from all corners and all groups over the last couple of days than the last couple of years, including many tea party members,” Nosef said. “Many people are finally fed up with these attempts to divide our party. Plus the pay for the job is too good (zero dollars),” Nosef said.
Lane's call for Nosef to resign stemmed from comments he made to NBC News about a brewing controversy about McDaniel that turned out to be much ado about nothing. It was reported that McDaniel's name was listed as a speaker on a flyer for a pro-2nd amendment rally that had featured a confederate memorabilia store. However, McDaniel said he never attended the rally nor told the organizers he would attend, and no evidence has emerged to contradict him since.
But then the other side of the story came out. Nosef issued a demand to NBC News that McDaniel immediately explain himself, comments that were picked up by MSNBC host Chris Matthews and used to blast McDaniel.
The flyer controversy, along with new reports about colorful comments McDaniel made on talk radio a decade ago about Muslims, slavery reparations, and Mexico have set off an undercurrent of race in a primary battle between two white men that Nosef said has party elders concerned.
Indeed, in the emails, Nosef suggested Lane may have been upset with him because he criticized the era of racial segregation in his comments to NBC.
“In addition I told the reporter that we were NOT better off during segregation,” Nosef wrote. “Is that what you have a problem with?”
Lane, in a phone interview, emphatically rejected Nosef's allegation and warned that she would work to hold Cochran, Barbour, and the rest of the GOP establishment to the same standards on race that they are setting for McDaniel.
“The grassroots conservatives in our wonderful great state, we know that this is our opportunity to make a change,” Lane said. “And we got to do it. We’re working hard to do it. We are solid with Chris McDaniel. He is the chosen man for this hour. It’s sad that Thad [Cochran] just doesn’t drop out of the race. That’s why I did this. All of us in the Tea Party have let everything else [that Nosef and other establishment GOP officials in Mississippi have done] go until that interview [with NBC News]. I was texting with others here in the leadership in the Tea Party and said I was livid and have got to respond.”
In a phone interview, Lane told Breitbart News the point she is making is that Cochran and Barbour should be held to the same standard as McDaniel—and that Nosef shouldn’t give them a pass if he’s going to make such criticisms of McDaniel, regardless of merit. “First of all, nobody should have backed this at all,” Lane said, noting her belief is that the standard applied to McDaniel by Nosef was unfair. “But they did.”
Meanwhile, pressure is continuing to build on Nosef.
On Tuesday morning, the statewide Tea Party in Mississippi called on Gov. Phil Bryant to step in and force Nosef to apologize to the movement.
“As the self-proclaimed First Tea Party Governor in the nation, Gov. Bryant well understands what it takes to build consensus within the Republican Party,” Laura Van Overschelde, the chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, said in a statement. “It is our hope that Gov. Bryant can guide Mr. Nosef, and that he will show leadership in this regard by asking Mr. Nosef to publicly rescind the statements Nosef made to NBC and to Paul Gallo.”
A spokeswoman for Bryant has not responded to phone calls or emails from Breitbart News about this matter generally, or about that specific press release Tuesday morning from the state Tea Party.
Nosef told Breitbart News on Tuesday that by “these people,” in the email he didn’t mean all Tea Partiers. “I would never say I am done working with the tea party itself,” Nosef said. “In fact as a tea party member who actually is out there in the state working told me today - the real grassroots tea party people don't care about all this inside baseball stuff. They are working to win elections. So I would never stop working with them. When I said ‘these people’ I was speaking of some of their leadership that is chronically against all of our elected officials. Literally these people believe our entire federal delegation needs to go. That's how different their leadership is than their voters.”