Mississippi held county conventions Saturday to elect county delegates who will compete to become Republican National Convention delegates at the upcoming state convention.
The process was structured in many locations to favor establishment delegates and John Kasich supporters and to suppress conservatives supporting Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, according to numerous eyewitnesses.
Breitbart News has learned of conventions being run according to pre-written scripts, of county officials urging other insiders to suppress conservative activists and “outsiders,” and of delegate slates being forced through even though skeptical party officials did not have the voter rolls to figure out who was actually voting.
Mississippi’s conventions this weekend show that even though John Kasich and Ted Cruz are teaming up to help each other out in upcoming primary states to keep Trump below 1,237 delegates on the first ballot, the Kasich and Cruz camps are already at war behind the scenes for second-ballot delegates.
Let’s break down the situation in Mississippi, where Trump won the primary:
State Party Chairman Under Fire For Threatening To Use Armed Police
Things have been hot in Mississippi since Breitbart News revealed last week that state party chairman Joe Nosef sent text messages to a Trump campaign official threatening to use armed police to throw out any outsiders that the Trump or Cruz camps try to put up for delegate. Nosef is close to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, an establishment figure who controls the state Highway Patrol.
An insider told a Breitbart News source that “you’re going to get your scalp,” referring to Nosef.
Nosef did not return a request for comment. Governor Bryant’s office did not return a request for comment.
Rankin County ‘Bloodbath’ Forces Through Suspected Kasich Delegates
Gary Harkins, father of state senator Josh Harkins, presided over the Rankin County convention Saturday, forcing through a pre-approved slate of delegates with the help of lawyer Troy Odom. That delegate slate is suspected to be pro-Kasich. Harkins himself is pro-Kasich, having provided one of Kasich’s numerous Mississippi establishment endorsements. Harkins also served on Kasich’s Mississippi leadership team.
Harkins declared a rule change the day before the county convention. He sent out an email instructing delegate candidates to fill out a new form declaring themselves candidates and getting it in to the party by noon, three hours before the county’s convention started on Saturday.
Please find attached here the form that you should please complete and email to the State GOP Headquarters, no later than noon this Saturday if you wish to be considered as a delegate or alternate delegate to the STATE Republican Convention on May 14…
Ronnie Moses, who was running to represent Rankin County as a delegate to the upcoming state convention, told Breitbart News that the Harkins-led process was a “bloodbath” for conservatives.
“The Rankin County GOP executed a political bloodbath against the conservative Republicans,” Moses said. “This is an example of how the national GOP is trying to steal the vote of the people…This started at the local precinct. It was all orchestrated.”
“All opposing objections were declined or not recognized. It was conducted like a dictatorship by the Rankin County director Gary Hawkins,” Moses said, adding that he thinks “Joe Nosef and Governor Bryant had a role in this too.”
“They had a pre-determined delegate slate that was read in one-tenth of a second like it was rehearsed. Troy Odom did that. They rammed it through. Then Gary Hawkins wouldn’t let anybody else have the floor. We were standing up objecting the entire time and he wouldn’t recognize us! That’s why we say it was rigged.”
A video shows the Rankin County chaos:
Even though Ronnie Moses was running, he did not get to address the convention.
“It was like we weren’t even there,” Moses said. “Before they got the last name out of their mouth, Lyin’ Troy seconded it, hit the gavel, and it was done. He did the same thing with the delegates, then the alternates. We were completely ignored. It’s like we weren’t even there.”
“They’re establishment,” Moses said of the delegate slate approved by the county committee. “We think it’s Kasich…I’ve been in politics for 30 years. These are people who I’ve defeated in local elections, these are people who were supported by the Republican Party in the past.”
“The Cruz people and the Trump people united at the convention to try to defeat that slate of votes,” Moses noted.
“We don’t think he’s really supporting Cruz, otherwise it has to be Kasich,” Moses said of Governor Bryant.
Ronnie’s wife Dee Moses said she observed a similar situation at the earlier precinct caucus, where a pre-approved slate was forced through and her husband was lucky enough to win a spot to even get to the county level.
“I talked to Troy Odom and he assured me he would honor the popular vote of the people, which went to Donald trump in our precinct and the state,” Dee Moses said. “It’s a shame when Americans try to get involved in the process and we’re railroaded like this.”
“Now we’re calling him Lyin’ Troy.”
State senator Melanie Sojourner told Breitbart News that “Yesterday, in MS we saw a record number of conservatives participate our Republican Caucus. Sadly, many of them were not welcomed”:
Numerous County GOP leaders put out emails to their closed circle of friends in the days prior to the Caucuses warning that they better get out and Caucus, because the ‘Cruze/McDaniel and Trump people were planning to show up’. Together Cruz and Trump received nearly 85% of the vote in MS, yet the Party doesn’t want these people participating. It’s a shame that the MS establishment doesn’t recognize that these voters are the base of our Party.
I fielded reports from dozens of locations around the state where people were discouraged from participating. Some where told the delegates were already selected and in other places, despite their repeated efforts to be recognized conservatives motions would not be heard. In other, places pre-determined slates where pushed through without the people even having a voice.
These are the type heavy-handed tactics that have caused Mississippians to lose faith in our Party. It’s a real shame. With what the Democrats liberal policies have done to our nation now is a time for Republicans to show real leadership.
Sadly, all they are giving us is more of the same corrupt politics that serve those in power at the price of the people. Mississippians have had enough. The bullying and threatening tactics pushed onto conservatives by the Barbour establishment in Mississippi is only causing conservatives to engage more, which is exactly what the establishment fears the most.
Troy Odom did not return a request for comment as of press time. The Rankin County GOP, Gary Harkins, and Josh Harkins did not return requests for comment.
DeSoto County Conservatives Are Targeted
Breitbart News has obtained an email sent by Desoto County Republican chairwoman Ellen Jernigan, a longtime party insider, explaining to friends how they cannot allow the “DCCC” (Desoto County Conservative Coalition) led by Tom Minyard take over the Executive Committee. Jernigan is on the state party’s Central Committee with Governor Bryant, Senator Thad Cochran, and Henry Barbour, and on the party’s state Executive Committee with Joe Nosef:
Again, you know we had a very successful convention here in Desoto County. But NOT without a great team of several people who worked so hard in each district to make sure the precincts were reporting. We precincts during the next 4 years, so we can carry our ballot again. We can not let the DCCC people slip in to rule. They are not going away, but think we can control more that we have the leader, Tom Minyard on our committee. He too slipped on, as Brian Hodges could not get elected in his precinct, so we wanted us to let at least 7-8 get nominated instead of 6 that we had allowed for districts. Well he still did not get on, but Tom Minyard did with a run off with Don Tullos which is Merle Flowers friend and I was not going to let him get on our committee, so Tom Won. No problem…We need him so we can let him know how we as conservatives do things, since he thinks we are not as conservative as he or his group…
“The bottom line here is evidence of the Boss Hog syndrome,” Minyard tells Breitbart News. “It’s top-down, the party elite trying to squash the voice of the grassroots. Just going to the voting booth is not enough.”
“What’s happening is the governor is going to want to have a slate. The whole point is to be top-down driven in the Republican Party, and they just want everybody to vote top down with what the party bosses want you to vote,” Minyard added.
Ellen Jernigan defended herself to Breitbart News.
“Yes we do have a very conservative group that is pretty far to the right, and not all of us want to follow them. You have to be a little more moderate now. We can’t be all Right-sided, you have to be a little more moderate,” Jernigan said.
Well I bet he was [offended] and he should be, but we let him on the committee,” Jernigan said of Minyard. “I wrote that to a couple friends. I wasn’t gossiping. It’s really truthful what I wrote. There are a couple of guys who I don’t care for. But I’m blunt. I stand behind what I said. Tom Minyard is a very nice gentleman but he is far to the right, and they have ideas about certain things that I don’t agree with.
“I have not wrapped my arms around any candidate,” Jernigan said when asked about the party establishment’s alleged pro-Kasich bias. “I will support any Republican candidate who wins. I am a conservative. We have this big national debt. We need to stop that….I want to get any Republican that can win.”
But Jernigan made clear that her sympathies rest with Governor Bryant, and she will follow Bryant’s decision-making.
“There are several groups that didn’t want to follow the governor. That’s what I’ve been told. There are several groups who want to go against the governor,” Jernigan said.
“[Governor] Phil [Bryant] went for Cruz in the primary but I think that’s over now,” Jernigan said, noting that the primary has come and gone.
“I don’t know until I get there. I don’t even know that I will be going,” Jernigan said when asked if she will support Trump on a second ballot in Cleveland. “Until I know what the governor’s wishes are I will not be making a comment on any of that. He is our governor, he leads our party. He makes the decisions. And I think anybody who goes up against the governor is wrong.”
“There are some people who want to upset the thing…We were going up against some tough cookies and some powerful people who thought they were going to take over…We let Mr. Minyard on the executive committee and I think he should be grateful.”
“They don’t think I’m conservative enough,” Jernigan said, defending her conservatism. “Some of these people act the fool, and I don’t do that.”
Pike County Follows A Script
Saturday’s Pike County convention was rather theatrical, in the sense that it was all scripted.
Breitbart News has obtained photos of the Pike County convention script, which the county officials handed out to all of the delegate candidates who attended the convention. The entire process was mapped out beforehand and the script included a pre-approved delegate slate that quickly won on the first vote with no objections.
The county party officials told a dissenter that they were operating on “rules” sent directly from the state party.Delegate candidate Alida Lott, 59, told Breitbart News that “I’m sitting there and I’m watching and it was a repeat performance. They were handing out scripts, and calling them up one by one according to script.”
“He started handing out scripts, and he handed me one, and it was verbatim word for word.”
At one point, the delegate candidates were asked to leave the room while the executive committee decided on at-large delegates to serve for the next four years. Lott said she got into an argument in the hallway with a man who said that you can’t just show up and run to be a delegate, you need to be more involved in the local party.
“He started getting kind of irate and said ‘Well, I’ve never seen you at a meeting’ and then he gets in my face. I was scared and shaking,” Lott said. “And I told him that I HAVE been there. And I don’t know how I got that out of my mouth. This is not my norm to go out in public [politically] because they spoke to me this way four years ago.”
When Lott got back into the room, the county party quickly approved the first slate of delegate candidates, according to the script.
“It was ran so fast. They knew they had to get it through so fast,” Lott said. “There was nothing else you could say or do, and I said, we had the right [to run for delegate] and we had the right to question, why are we not on that list?”
Lott approached Pike County chairman Bobby McDaniel.
— Joe Nosef (@joenosef) March 28, 2014
“I said, Bobby this is wrong these are not the rules. He said to me, These are the rules from the state GOP!” Lott said. “So I said, you’re not to blame, the state GOP told you to do it this way? And I said to him, every single one of your delegates is on the executive committee, including you!”
“What they care about is keeping their elite GOP in control,” Lott said. “People who didn’t have a script had no idea what was going on for sure!”
Lott said that Bobby McDaniel hosted a local meeting Thursday two days before the county convention in which he urged people to resist takeover attempts by “outsiders.”
“Bobby McDaniel said Thursday at the GOP Republican Party meeting. I went to that meeting, my husband and I did. He [McDaniel] told a story about a 19-year old boy from Hattiesburg who took over their party by getting people to caucus. He said ‘We’re not going to let that happen in Pike County.'”
Bobby McDaniel did not return a request for comment on social media as of press time.
Jackson County Goes For Kasich, Despite Missing Voter Rolls
Susan Kelly Garrett was on the executive committee and also the credentialing committee that oversaw Saturday’s Jackson County convention. Garrett told Breitbart News that even though the county voted for Trump with Cruz coming in second, the vast majority of the county’s delegates are second-ballot Kasich supporters.
“I am on the executive committee charged to run the county caucus and the convention. There were a select few people who actually knew what was going on,” Garrett said. “The chairman is charged with appointing precinct captains for each precinct. The precinct captain was appointed but the committee members did not know who the precinct captains were.”
“I was on the credentials committee but I did not know who else was on the credentials committee,” Garrett said. “We did not have the voter rolls. I questioned that and I was quickly shut down even though I was on the credentials committee. At that point I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t do anything. There were four other people on the credentials committee, the vote was 4 to 1 of accepting the credentials” even though there was no way to verify who the voters actually were.
“I questioned how do we know if these people actually live in the county and are registered to vote here?”
“That in itself is, I don’t believe, how it’s supposed to be done,” Garrett said. “That told me right off the bat it was going to be stacked against some conservatives.”
“We did not vote per delegate. A slate was offered…we did a count vote and the establishment ultimately had the numbers…The temporary chair became the permanent chair…They offered us a slate of delegates, there was no discussion…They read off the names quickly,” Garrett said.
“Jackson county gets 14 delegates. I would say 3/4 of them are John Kasich supporters,” Garrett said. “They manipulated the whole process.”
“John Kasich was here in Mississippi a couple months ago campaigning down here on the coast. That night or the next day the Mississippi GOP had a big dinner with him,” Garrett said. “They claimed it was to raise money for the Mississippi GOP party…that kind of tells me that some political figures in Mississippi are going to be beholden to John Kasich…That’s Mississippi politics for you.”