Lately, it seems that Republican primaries have become a contest to see who can sound the most like a complete right-wing nut. This is especially true in deep red states like Mississippi, where sounding like a total idiot can actually be an asset. Remember, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith had no qualms about blowing telling a joke about taking part in a public hanging. And yet, she still managed to win the right to serve the final two years of Thad Cochran’s term.
A lot of people, including this writer, have wondered how it was possible that such a blatant dog whistle didn’t spell finis to Hyde-Smith’s campaign. Well, part of the answer may have come from one of the Republicans running for governor later this year. He believes that there’s a good reason that assault weapons should still be legal–to protect against those evil, evil libruls.
Robert Foster represents the 25th district in the Mississippi House, which includes a slice of the Mississippi side of the Memphis metro area. Although he is only in his first term, he’s already angling for a move to the big leagues by running for governor. The incumbent, fellow Republican Phil Bryant, is barred from a third term.
You would expect a Republican in Mississippi to bill himself as a hard-right conservative. After all, a politician who sounds like a full-on nut anywhere else would be considered mainstream there. But Foster is that and more. He’s running as a Mississippi version of Donald Trump. In this interview with Mississippi political blog Y’all Politics, he touted his experience as the operator of an agri-tourism business in his hometown of Hernando, south of Memphis. Watch here.
This was an obvious nod to Trump, who ran almost entirely on his record as a CEO. But Foster is emulating some of Trump’s worst traits as well–and has few qualms about it. Early on, he made a name for himself for a sharp-elbowed approach to politics that would do Trump proud. Take this tweet on the day before the general election, for instance.
Uh huh. So if you refused to vote for a woman who thought it was remotely okay to joke about lynching, you’re “ignorant or evil,” and support “the destruction of our nation”?
Somehow, after saying voting for Democrats was an act of ignorance, Foster took to Facebook a week later and said that he didn’t mean to offend anyone.
This post sounds even more disingenuous in light of the way he responded to Senator Chris Murphy’s renewed call for a ban on assault weapons in the wake of the Christchurch massacre. Foster claimed that there was a very good reason that we still need assault weapons.
So let’s get this straight. In Foster’s world, you need an AR-15 with a high-capacity clip to defend yourself against liberals? This would be alarming in and of itself. But remember, this is coming from a Republican state legislator who wants to be governor.
Foster probably thinks he can get away with spewing such unhinged claptrap because he doesn’t expect to be held to account. The Mississippi side of the Memphis area isn’t just red, it’s the same shade as a Mississippi State football jersey. While the yeomen at Daily Kos weren’t able to get presidential data at the state legislative level in Mississippi, Foster’s district tends to give Republican statewide candidates implausible margins even by Deep South standards–well over 80 percent. For instance, it gave Bryant a staggering 84 percent in his bid for a second term in 2015.
However, Foster is getting a heavy dose of accountability. Most of the responses on Twitter, as well as on a companion post on Facebook, have rightly called him out. But Foster seems to be sticking his fingers in his ears, judging by this picture he posted on Twitter.
I was alerted to this by one of my close friends, one of the few blue dots in this crimson-red state. She tells me that Foster is probably a second-tier candidate, even though he is essentially Trump with a Southern accent. The likely favorite for the Republican nomination is Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, who has been in statewide office in Mississippi for over 15 years–eight as state treasurer, seven as lieutenant governor. Still, in one of the few areas where Trump is still worshiped, don’t be surprised if Mississippi Republicans decide they want their own personal Trump.
It says a lot that a guy who can even think about spewing such unhinged nonsense can even think he has any business of being governor, even in a crimson-red state. If Foster thinks he can use his gubernatorial campaign as a springboard to something else, he needs to be put on notice that he is sadly mistaken. You cannot act like an unhinged nut and claim to have any business serving in statewide office. Period.
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