Brett Favre tries a Hail Mary for Cochran

Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is hoping he can help Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) pull out an overtime win in his runoff battle with primary challenger Chris McDaniel.

The championship quarterback offers his support to Cochran in a new ad out from the Chamber of Commerce in which he touts Cochran as Mississippi's "strong voice in Washington."

"I’ve learned through football that strong leadership can mean the difference between winning and losing," he says in the ad.

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"Trust me, Mississippi can win," he goes on, with Cochran in office.

The three-time MVP started his career as a quarterback for the University of Southern Mississippi, and is still well-known and liked in the state.

The last-minute push from Cochran allies is an attempt to save his race, which has lagged in most surveys.

The most recent such long-shot effort is the push from Cochran's campaign for Democratic votes. Though there's a chance the tactic could backfire on the senator, he told a local reporter he's not concerned about pitching for Democrats because, he said, he used to be one himself.

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The Clarion-Ledger reported Tuesday that a Democratic operative in the state is leading a get-out-the-vote effort geared toward turning out African-American Democrats to vote for Cochran in his upcoming runoff battle against McDaniel.

It’s not the first time in the race that an outside actor has pitched Democrats on Cochran, and his own campaign team has made turning out Democrats a part of its strategy to push him over the edge in the runoff. But that tactic could backfire if Republicans see him as a traitor to the party, and national conservative group the Club for Growth argued just that in a recent ad, accusing Cochran of trying to “hijack” the runoff with Democratic votes.

But asked by WAPT reporter Scott Simmons about recruiting Democrats to support him, Cochran seemed unconcerned about the possible backlash.

Simmons tweeted that Cochran responded, “why not ‘I used to be a Democrat.’ ”

Cochran was indeed raised as a Democrat, but ran Richard Nixon’s campaign in Mississippi in 1968 and eventually became the first Republican to win statewide in Mississippi in a century when he was elected to the Senate in 1978.

He had, in previous interviews, expressed similar nonchalance about Democrats turning out to vote for him in the primary. In an interview with WAPT on June 9, Cochran said his “arms are open” to Democrats.

“My arms are open and welcoming and we hope that they would join our campaign and go vote on Election Day or by absentee ballot. ... We need a big turnout.” 

But during a Tuesday interview with WAPT, when asked about the GOTV effort reported by the Clarion-Ledger, Cochran says, “haven’t heard that, don’t know.”

That specific effort has raised eyebrows because Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole suggested the man in charge of it, James Warren, may be exchanging money for votes. 

Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef said in a statement Wednesday that he’s been in touch with legal counsel in case of any improprieties in the race.

"The law prohibits anyone from buying or selling a vote, as it should. We want a clean, hard fought primary decided by voters who plan to support the Republican Party and our candidates in November,” he said. “I personally have been and continue to be in touch with legal counsel as well as representatives from both campaigns in order to ensure that our runoff is accurate and legal."