Week after Miss. flag retired, Sen. McDaniel spearheads push for future referendum

Chris McDaniel said Thursday he stands behind a controversial comment he made on MSNBC recently.
Chris McDaniel said Thursday he stands behind a controversial comment he made on MSNBC recently.(Source: WDAM)
Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 9:54 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A week after the Mississippi state flag was officially retired, Senator Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) is calling for a referendum.

McDaniel, perhaps one of the loudest voices against the resolution to retire the state flag, is saying that Mississippians deserved the right to vote on whether to keep the flag, not politicians.

He is now directing his followers to Let Mississippi Vote!, a website whose front page declares, “With the historic flag vote in Jackson, our legislators stole our voice from us.” According to McDaniel, their current mission is to amass enough volunteers who have an interest in making the referendum a possibility.

Under current state laws, electronic signatures can not be used on a ballot referendum. Signatures must be on a physical piece of paper, which is why the organization is attempting to get volunteers who would be willing to go door-to-door collecting those signatures.

The current goal is 5,000 volunteers. McDaniel said that 1,000 people volunteered in the website’s first 24 hours.

As for when the referendum would occur, he said this November would be too soon.

“If the signatures were collected, and it is a substantial number of signatures, over 105,000, once those signature are collected, then they will be placed on the ballot at some point,” McDaniel explained in a Facebook Live Wednesday evening. “That can be as early as April of 2021, it could be later.”

On the subject of a flag referendum being unconstitutional, McDaniel called the claim preposterous, saying that is exactly what happened in the 2001 Mississippi Flag Referendum.

“Sixty-five percent of the population spoke really, really clearly to an issue,” he said, referring to the past referendum. “And that was after a significant public debate on the issue. When was the last time, in a general election, anyone of our politicians got sixty-five percent of the vote? Hasn’t happened. So I guess it can be argued that the flag in its present design was more popular than any one of our state-wide politicians.”

He said that when you have a majority speaking on an issue, you must respect it and that politician work for the people, “not the other way around.”

McDaniel argued that politicians “should have listened to you” and should have “given you another voice.” He said legislatures didn’t trust Mississippians to make the decision.

A week before legislatures voted on the 2020 flag resolution, a poll was released showing 55% of likely voters supported changing the flag. McDaniel claimed at the time that the poll was manipulated because of the age groups and racial demographics of those polled.

“Whose government is it?” he asked towards the end of his Facebook Live. “Whose state is it? It’s your state, it’s your government but the powers that be just didn’t trust you to make the decision.”

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