A day before the election, the fight between Tavish Kelly and Stacey Wilkes for the Mississippi District 108 House seat in Picayune had been whittled down to two issues: Donald Trump and the Mississippi State Flag. Both candidates identify as Republicans.
“I wasn’t that opposed to Trump”
On Monday, a flyer paid for by State Senator Angela Burkes Hill’s campaign was sent out to residents of Picayune in support of Wilkes.
“Tavish Kelly is not a Republican,” the flyer reads. “Previously, he was a self-identified ‘Anarcho-Capitalist’ Libertarian.” The flyer suggests that, with Kelly’s judgment, we would have “Hillary in the White House, marijuana dispensaries in Picayune, a new pro abortion justice on the Supreme Court, more liberal activists in federal judgeships, no support for immigration enforcement, and no travel ban on refugees coming to the U.S. from hotbeds of Islamic terror.” A self-described Christian conservative, Kelly disputes this.
But the worst part of the flyer, for Kelly, comes next: It’s a screenshot of a Facebook post by Kelly from October 8, 2016, in which he declared “Trump is going to lose” and “It is now the duty of conservatives to make sure that Trump’s loss is as devastating as possible.”
According to Kelly, the post was made on the heels of the unveiling of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which then-candidate Trump described a penchant for sexually assaulting women.
Responding to criticism from a voter on his Facebook page, Kelly wrote “I wasn’t that opposed to Trump.” Later, he made a Facebook post defending himself.
Kelly’s claims about the source of the funding is based on a post McDaniel made on Sunday, in which he said that U.S. Senator Roger Wicker – who he plans to challenge – had hired Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager to run his re-election effort.
But a quick glance through Kelly’s public Facebook posts does indeed show that, while he has often praised Trump recently, he does have a long history of criticizing him.
Tavish Kelly’s History of Criticizing Trump on Facebook
October 8, 2016: Kelly wrote, “It is now the duty of conservatives to make sure that Trump’s loss is as devastating as possible. We must show the nation, and the Republican establishment, that we will never let this happen again.”
October 13, 2016: Kelly implied that “Trump and Clinton are equally bad,” and went on to argue “women are twice as irrational as men.”
November 3, 2016: Kelly wrote, “Donald Trump has all the charm and grace of a broken trash compactor, but even if he were the most polite and sophisticated candidate in history, I still would not vote for him.” He goes on to explain in detail why he opposes Trump.
November 15, 2016: Shea Dobson (who is now the mayor of Ocean Springs), tagged Kelly in a post, writing, “Instead of draining the swamp Trump is promoting failed establishment neocons. With all of these warmongers it’s almost as if Hillary won after all.” Kelly liked the post.
February 27, 2017: Kelly wrote, “If you call yourself a fiscal conservative and still support Trump’s proposed military budget, you’re a liar. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
Subsequent Facebook posts about Trump by Kelly, however, have mostly been positive, with only minor quibbles expressed.
The fight over the state flag
“Once again, my opponent is WRONG. You can count on me to support the flag that 67% of Mississippians voted to keep. I am not for historic cleansing, and I am in favor of preserving historical monuments.”