PLUNKETT: ‘Trial lawyer’ claim shows Cochran may not be quite so “gentlemanly” a fellow after all.

BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett

The National Chamber of Commerce has launched a new ad with an old theme against Senator Chris McDaniel. In it, they attempt to relaunch the brand of “trial lawyer” unsuccessfully promoted months ago by the Mississippi Conservatives PAC, a group organized to reelect Senator Thad Cochran.

To say this ad is misleading is an understatement. We’re talking about a man in Senator McDaniel who has voted for every tort reform measure to come before him for a vote as a state senator. We’re talking about a man whose career has been defending businesses against frivolous lawsuits.

We’re talking about a man who has been named a BIPEC business champion, has a 95 percent lifetime rating by the National Federation of Independent Business, and was named one of the top 50 lawyers in the state by the Mississippi Business Journal. We’re talking about a man who fought over the past several years to finally pass the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act in 2013 in Mississippi, a law that allows small businesses to directly challenge burdensome regulations.

We’re talking about a man who has owned his own businesses, and a man that donated his time to sue the federal government to stop ObamaCare.

The negative ad by Cochran’s lobbyists is not only distasteful and without merit, it is even worse. You see, the one single case they reference proves the charge to be an outright lie. This ad borderlines on criminal.

Senator McDaniel never argued to do away with caps on damages brought about by tort reform, as the ad claims, NEVER. The ad simply attempts guilt by association just like so many other hateful and distorting ads before. Because, the ad claims, McDaniel represented a client in one hearing, then he is somehow guilty of arguing for that same client in a separate argument, an argument of which even the court documents show McDaniel had no part. It’s a ludicrous claim.

But what is the most galling isn’t that the National Chamber of Commerce would lie to maintain their power hold and lobbying strength in Washington. What is particularly galling is that they would do it with the blessing of a 42-year incumbent who says he represents YOU.

Gentleman Thad? Really?

Does that description only apply in the halls and back rooms of Congress?

What is also galling is that the initial claim that is being picked up on by the National Chamber of Commerce was first attempted months ago by the PAC run by Henry Barbour, a state GOP executive committee member and a delegate to the national convention.

Mississippi Republicans, Barbour says he represents YOU.

Numerous Republican officials throughout the state have at some point in the past several years described Senator McDaniel as the future of the Republican Party in Mississippi. Now they attack him.

It’s simple. Follow the money.

Every Republican, Conservative and TEA Party member should be disgusted by this. Are we proponents of small government, lower taxes and less spending like the TEA Party principles say, like the Conservatives ideals call for, and the Republican platform states? That’s the common bond between us, and it’s a conversation Cochran’s campaign doesn’t want us to have.

There are plenty of good reasons to vote for Chris McDaniel on June 3, not least of all is the fact that he is willing to look voters in the eye and ask for their vote face to face. Senator Cochran’s nasty campaign and unwillingness to make himself available to the public is not giving voters any reasons to think otherwise.

Why wouldn’t a “gentlemen” running for office try to give voters a reason to think better of him?

About Keith: Keith Plunkett is Policy Director for McDaniel for U.S. Senate. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett

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Gov. Bryant to speak at University of Mississippi commencement

The University of Mississippi says Gov. Phil Bryant will be the main speaker at its 161st commencement on May 10.

He will speak to graduating students, their families and other guests at 9 a.m. This year’s graduating class includes about 2,650 spring candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees and about 1,000 August 2013 graduates.

Chancellor Dan Jones says Bryant has given the state valuable leadership for nearly 25 years in both the legislative and executive branches.

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Gov. Bryant signs bill funding trooper school.

Mississippi officials hope to begin training a new class of state troopers by November.

Gov. Phil Bryant today signed into a law a bill that would spend $6.9 million to produce 60 new members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol by May 2015. Applications will be available starting May 1.

Bryant also signed bills today that pay for more assistant district attorneys and would require police agencies to collect DNA samples from people arrested in violent crimes.

Mississippi has about 500 troopers now, but officials say the ideal number is about 650. The last trooper training school was in 2011, with about 50 graduates.

“All we’re doing is working wrecks,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz. “We don’t have the people to patrol the highways.”

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HALL: So why should Cochran debate?

BY: Sam Hall

Well, McDaniel supporters have some pretty good reasons. First off, if presidential incumbents agree to debate their opponents, it seems quite reasonable that every other officeholder in the land should be capable of doing the same. Plus, there’s the idea that part of the democratic process is meeting your opponent on the political battlefield to wage a war of ideas in a public forum.

Cochran’s camp, however, wants no part of anything that isn’t tightly controlled. Even media access is so limited as to make us scratch our heads over the limitations. In fact, Cochran has yet to accept our invitation to sit down with The Clarion-Ledger editorial board. The level of controlled access to the senator is starting to throw up serious red flags.

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PLUNKETT: Lesson of the weekend: Despite turmoil we will re-emerge.

BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett

Today we Christians begin a three-day weekend to pray and focus on the greatest gift ever given, Salvation. It would do each of us well right now to focus on the example Jesus gave us about sacrifice and rebirth, about the meaning of life on this earth, and the fleeting emotional games of our mortal existence. It would do us well to focus on the immortality we are promised by adhering to lessons of Faith and sacrifice.

Mississippi is going through a bit of very public turmoil right now. Many of us who count each other as friends are looking at each other with a skeptical eye, questioning motives and saying some pretty nasty things about each other. It is unnecessary and in my opinion uncalled for. Unfortunately there are those who believe this is a path they should take.

Just remember the example we have been given; from the darkest of days comes renewal, rebirth and an opportunity for reemergence. To my friends on both sides of the divide, I look forward to future days of laughter and joining you again as before in service to one another for our common causes.

If this weekend reminds us of anything it is my prayer that it reminds us that there are important matters ahead that will deserve our serious attention, and that we must approach them together. This too shall pass.

On June 4, when I look in the mirror, I want to be satisfied with the integrity of the guy looking me in the eye.

This deserves some perspective. Let it sink in what our Lord went through and I think we will all agree that we are blessed to live in a country where we can openly disagree, and blessed to have been Saved by Grace.

Mark 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

Mark 15:29-32 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,  come down from the cross and save yourself !”  In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself !  Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Luke 23:46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.” And having said this, He breathed His last.

Mark 15:46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Mark 16:5-7 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”

Happy Easter to all.

He is Risen.

About Keith: Keith Plunkett is Policy Director for McDaniel for U.S. Senate. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett

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Dept. of Ed. so overstaffed with bureaucrats needs $2.8 million initiative to implement new #CommonCore courses.

The Mississippi Department of Education appears ready to add 27 contract employees to help local schools improve teaching.

The state Board of Education discussed the $2.8 million initiative at its work session Thursday and is likely to vote to approve it Friday.

Observers including a legislative watchdog committee have noted that the state department traditionally has been more of regulator than a direct participant in efforts to improve education. Today, only two curriculum specialists provide training to Mississippi’s 151 school districts.

“We’ve recognized a real need to expand the number of bodies that provide those services across the state,” state Superintendent Carey Wright told the board Thursday.

In 2012, the Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review issued a report critical of the state’s failure to provide aid.

“While staffing improvements have been made in the area of instruction, PEER determined that only 1 percent of positions at MDE are specifically tasked with improving classroom instruction in all of the state’s school districts,” the report stated. “Because MDE has allocated the majority of its resources to other areas, MDE has limited its own impact in the priority area of improved instruction, particularly the deep level of implementation necessary for increased student learning to occur.”

Benton said the state took the PEER report into account when designing the new program.

Chief Deputy State Superintendent Kim Benton said the effort will focus on literacy, math, language arts and early childhood learning. She said the focus on math and language arts will help districts make the switch to the Common Core state standards.

“We wanted to be able to support the transition to the new courses,” Benton said, referring to the state’s recent adoption of new course descriptions.

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Chris McDaniel Visits Ten MS Republican Groups in Ten Days

Republican Chris McDaniel has travelled across the state over the past 10 days in his campaign to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate, visiting Republican women’s clubs, Republican committees, and Republican clubs across the state.

Over the last 10 days, McDaniel has been greeted by standing-room-only crowds while serving as the featured speaker at the Republican executive committees and clubs in Forrest, Harrison, Lee, Itawamba, Noxubee, Tishomingo and Wayne Counties, as well as the Republican women meetings in DeSoto, Hancock, Harrison, and Jones counties.

Over 10 days, McDaniel traveled 2,500 miles, attending meet-and-greets in Starkville, Magee, Picayune, and Laurel, serving as a guest speaker at North Greenwood Baptist Church, attending meetings with community and business leaders in Petal, Tupelo, and Vancleave, and hosting a town hall in Jackson.

Many long-time Republicans expressed admiration for Chris’s commitment to traveling the state.

“I’ve been associated with the Harrison County GOP for 15 years, and this was probably the most exciting event we’ve ever had,” said Pete Wilson, a board member of the Harrison County Republican Club. “There were 120 Republicans in the room of all kinds, and the room was full of energy — so much so that folks were lingering around after the meeting for much longer than usual to have an opportunity to meet Chris after they gave him a standing ovation.”

Over the next six weeks, McDaniel will continue delivering his message of constitutionally limited governance on his campaign tour around Mississippi, and will continue to meet with Republican groups and voters in all corners of the state.

McDaniel Press Release

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