An African American political action group that helped Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., eke out a nail-biting runoff victory Tuesday against a tea party opponent who spent “somewhere in the area of about $20,000” in media targeting black people, the organizer of the PAC told Journal-isms on Wednesday.
The money went to black press publications, to black-oriented radio stations and to three people “paid to get our message out” on social media, Bishop Ronnie C. Crudup Sr. of New Horizon Church International in Jackson said by telephone. The controversial tactic was possible because Mississippi law permits Democrats to vote in the Republican runoff as long as they did not vote in the Democratic primary.
Crudup said his group, All Citizens for Mississippi, was active in at least 50 of Mississippi’s 82 counties. With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Cochran beat state Sen. Chris McDaniel, 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent. African Americans make up 37 percent of the state’s population. CNN reported that about 61,000 more people voted Tuesday than in the primary two weeks ago.
The African American show of voting prowess came amid 50th anniversary commemorations of “Freedom Summer,” when whites and blacks braved violence and murder in Mississippi to secure for its black residents the right to vote.
Reporters covering Tuesday’s contest cited full-page ads in black newspapers that trumpeted the $18 million Cochran secured to fund historically black colleges and protections he said he had brought to communities of color.
Alice Tisdale, publisher of the Jackson Advocate, told Journal-isms that the PAC spent approximately $2,600 with her paper, which has a circulation of 8,000.
The Advocate endorsed Cochran in the June 3 primary and again for the runoff. She also published a 538-word piece that she said represented the paper’s views:
“THAD COCHRAN has been a gentleman and a Senator from Mississippi. We have never heard of anything he has said negatively about any group in our state. In fact, Thad has brought home to Mississippi federal dollars that have benefited ALL Mississippians. To name a few, he has provided millions in federal funds to HBCU’s such as Jackson State University, Alcorn State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Tougaloo College and Rust College. He has secured funding for more than twenty (20) free clinics in neighborhoods across the state and helped to create the Jackson Medical Mall. He also supports the Job [Corps] Program and Head Start Programs. THAD brings home money where it’s needed, regardless of the community the funding benefits. . . .”
The issue of advertising in black-owned media has been contentious. On Wednesday, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters complained about a June 2 federal court decision ordering tobacco companies to extend to black media an advertising campaign owning up to the negative health effects of tobacco.