The rift in the Mississippi Republican Party has apparently widened.
A post today on arch-conservative Laura Ingraham's LifeZette website says party Chairman Joe Nosef has in text messages threatened supporters of Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz with eviction from the state convention in May. That would seem to indicate there's a move afoot to steer the GOP nomination to Ohio Gov. John Kasich or some other tamer Republican.
Nosef took issue with the story but said he did send the texts.
The story, "Gov. Bryant, state GOP make sinister move to send pro-Establishment delegates to Cleveland," is based on a text LifeZette says was sent from Nosef to a senior member of the Trump campaign in Mississippi.
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“And like I told you, I can promise my cousin and anybody else if they even so much as raise their voice they’re going to be outside in the parking lot and they won’t be back in and no I won’t be removing them -- somebody with a gun and a badge will be,” it says the text from Nosef said.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel, leader of the conservative wing of the party, is the cousin, LifeZette said. He responded in an email:
"If the text message is accurate, then I'm saddened.
"If it is true, I don't believe Gov. Bryant has anything to do with this. He has expressed to me his desire to allow the people to participate in the process.
"Although he endorsed Thad (Cochran) in 2014, I consider Phil to be my friend. We have fought together on the same side for many years. I believe him.
"Whatever the consequences of such actions, one thing is certain: This process belongs to the good people of Mississippi -- not to one man or a small group of party elite in a smoke-filled, mahogany-walled room in a Jackson mansion.
"The dirty tricks that took place in 2014 (in the Senate race for Congress) must never happen again."
Mitch Tyner, the Trump campaign's state chair didn't comment to LifeZette, but later said: "We are working hard to insure the voter's choice in MS is reflected in delegates sent to the national convention.
"We are respectful of the delegates won by Mr. Trump's opponent and expect the same of them. We expect the MS GOP to respect the voter's choices as well. "
"This angle and this story is the opposite of the truth. I was expressing frustration because the two campaigns local leadership had no interest in working with us to ensure THEY didn't end up in Cleveland in a delegate fight with each other about delegates.
"Secondly the part about security at the state convention is there because our people deserve and expect that we will have a professional, secure environment. No one will use our state convention to grandstand or try to intimidate people into voting a certain way. We owe it to our people for them to be safe."
Read more here.
Precinct caucuses and county conventions are Saturday and the state convention is May 13-14.