/Senate contender pushes on despite doubts about his candidacy

Senate contender pushes on despite doubts about his candidacy

On Monday afternoon, however, it would have been difficult to find anyone walking along Sela Ward Parkway who knew Howard Sherman, her husband, and one of six Democrats running in the U.S. Senate race currently held by Roger Wicker. Sherman spoke to Mississippi Today last week while campaigning in Pascagoula. He said, “This (campaign), is just a matter having people have the chance to experience me.” It is not clear that Howard Sherman has had an experience in his hometown 40 days prior to the Democratic primary. Only one person was able to place his name among the 15 people who surveyed downtown Meridian on Monday afternoon. And that person wasn’t aware that he was running as a senator. One downtown boutique owner stated that he would not recognize her if he entered her home. An old Meridian resident sat at the bar in Weidmann’s restaurant and said that he had never heard of the name. Near the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience cultural center downtown, a passerby said that she had no idea that he was running to be a senator until she heard the news on the radio last week. Many local and state officials in Meridian and throughout the state were shocked that he had entered the race. State Rep. Greg Snowden (R-Meridian) said, “I don’t know Howard so well, but you’re aware, he’s in a celebrity kind of circle.” Although everyone knows Sela, I think they might not know Howard as well. You don’t see them often around town due to their celebrity status. It’s understandable. But they’ve got presence here.” Clarksdale judge Carlos Moore met Sherman last week at an NAACP dinner. Moore describes himself as someone who closely tracks politics. Moore said that he had not heard of Sherman before he decided to run. Moore said, “I don’t know how I feel about him.” I am glad that he chose to run for office as a Democrat. Sherman appears to be a solid candidate. Sherman, a veteran entrepreneur and venture capitalist married to a Hollywood celebrity, has an extensive national fundraising network as well as plenty of cash to fund his war funds. Sherman borrowed $500,000 for his campaign in the first quarter of the year – something he called “an investment in Mississippi”. Sherman is a California native who has spoken out about Mississippi’s problems during the campaign trail. Sherman stated, “My wife, and I, wherever you go, are asked about where we live now.” Sherman said, “We get that look, that ‘Mississippi Burning’, KKK Mississippi, those three civil-rights workers who were killed in Philadelphia in 1964. They don’t see the Meridian Arts and Entertainment museum as a symbol of Mississippi. This is what they think so many people outside Mississippi have. They think back on what you see in Jackson’s civil rights museum.” Giles Perkins is Sherman’s campaign manager and Joe Trippi is running data consulting and analysis. Sherman is a unique candidate for politics in Mississippi. According to voting records, Sherman has not cast a single vote in Mississippi. According to Lauderdale County property records, Sherman has most of his residences in Beverly Hills. However, he does have 500 acres of land just outside Meridian. One thing many Democrats in the state are having trouble reconciling is Sherman’s long-standing support for Republicans. He has supported Wicker, the incumbent senator, in the past, and he would be facing him in November general elections if he wins the June Democratic primary. This track record includes support from top Republican officials in Mississippi as well as the nation. Just last year Sherman made Wicker the maximum individual contribution of $5,000. California voter records show Sherman was registered Republican from 2008 to 2016. Sherman and Ward hosted an event at their Meridian farm in 2008 for the then-presidential candidate, U.S. Senator John McCain. He gave $2,000 in 2006 to former U.S. Senator Trent Lott. He gave $500 to the U.S. Attorney general and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions in 2003. Sam Begley, a long-time Democratic operative and Jackson attorney, filed a petition to the state Democratic Party last week seeking to disqualify Sherman. This was mainly due the Wicker donation. Sherman called the petition “a laughable attempt by an opposition campaign to discredit me message.” Sherman spoke out in an interview with Mississippi Today. “Roger Wicker called my wife last year and he said, “Chris McDaniel will be coming for me,” Sherman stated. “At that time, before Doug Jones (the Alabama Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in 2017), before Democrats had any viable candidate and after we’d gotten our butts kicked over for 30 plus years, no one thought we could elect a Democratic senator. That binary decision was to stop Chris McDaniel – and I would do it again. Sherman stated, “Clearly Roger Wicker is not my favorite and I want him to lose.” Sherman said, “All that was then. The world is completely different. Donald Trump has created an entirely new world. Doug Jones has created an entirely new world. McDaniel was stopped by it (the donation made to Wicker). I am scratching my head. David Baria knows that. He is building his entire campaign around that.” Baria (the Bay St. Louis state House minority leader), sent a campaign email last Wednesday that addressed the same questions Begley raised in the petition. Brandon Jones, Baria’s campaign manager, and law partner, stated that David (Baria) entered the race to give Mississippians an honest choice in November. It was a choice between doing it the same old way, or doing something to benefit all Mississippians. “While David was fighting for better access to healthcare and public schools, Sherman was holding fundraisers for President Obama. “Mr. Jones said Sherman represents the same tired, transactional way to do business.” Jones continued, “He says, “This guy helped me so he gave me money.” Sherman explained to Mississippi Today that he donated Lott to Lott because of Ward’s policy support for the Hope Village for Children in Meridian. This is a facility that offers specialized treatment programs for children who are neglected or abused and their families. Sherman claimed that he donated to Sessions to help him with a policy issue related to a business deal Sherman was trying to close with his business partner. Sherman stated that he believed solutions transcend party labels when he declared his candidacy. “Formulating an action plan that results IN good jobs AND good school AND proper health care — which is about making Mississippians lives better — is what matters, and not whether there is an ‘D’ after your name,” Sherman stated in the candidacy announcement. Sherman responded to questions about his residency. Begley stated that Sherman should not be disqualified because he isn’t now, nor will be, an inhabitant in the state of Mississippi. However, land records at the Lauderdale County Courthouse show that Sherman purchased property in Meridian in 1992. Sherman also indicated that Sherman was originally from Beverly Hills, Calif. Satellite images online show that Sherman owns at least two properties on the land parcels. Three mailboxes face onto the main road leading to the property. Sherman and Ward hosted events at the property, which has been featured in several magazines. “This is our home. We don’t have another home. Sherman stated, “This is it.” Sherman said, “We have been living here since the fall 2016. It’s where all my cars are registered and where I registered to vote. Sherman stated that he had lived in this area for 25 years, starting in 1992. He also said that he registered to vote there. Sherman’s daughter, Sherman’s mother, is in college in Providence. I was there the night of the 2016 election. She wasn’t feeling well. Sherman spoke little about policy during the 40-minute interview last Wednesday. Sherman mentioned his desire to expand public-private partnerships in healthcare, where he has been working for over 20 years. Doug Jones popularized the term “kitchen table issues”, which he used last year. Sherman stated in an announcement that “we should have better healthcare.” Sherman stated that there should be more employment opportunities. Sherman stated that he became interested in running after a meeting with Jess Dickinson, the Hope Village executive director, and the state’s Child Protection Services Direct, Sherman. Sherman stated that Hope Village was not receiving many children from the state agency. Dickinson also spoke about the budget woes the agency had been dealing with. Sherman met Bobby Moak, Democratic Party Chairman. Sherman initially considered running for the congressional seat Rep. Gregg Harper will be giving up. However, Sherman stated that Moak, who can’t publicly support any candidate until after primary elections, suggested that a statewide race would be a better choice. “(Moak), who discussed my value proposition with me, kind of like (Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania), a moderate Democrat who won a special congressional race earlier this year. Sherman stated that Sherman was introducing a new type of message. Sherman stated that the moment that finally sealed the deal was January, after Sherman spent an evening with Doug Jones, newly elected Alabama senator, at the Winter-Hamer Dinner. This annual Democratic Party fundraiser was held in January. Sherman and Ward sat with Jones at the head table, which he stated encouraged Sherman to run. Sherman had already made an announcement when he filed his qualifying paperwork on February 28th, but he had already hired Perkins, Trippi and other former campaign staffers. Trey Forrest (Sherman’s current communications director), also worked on Jones’ 2017 campaign. Sherman borrowed $500,000 later to cover the costs of the campaign team as well as the initial expenses. These expenses were not included in the Federal Election Commission’s first quarter campaign finance documents. Perkins donated $1,000 to Sherman’s campaign. Sherman stated that the donation was made to Sherman to show how serious Sherman takes this issue and how important it is for him. Sherman said, “I have been blessed to bet right on many of the things that I have invested my time in, and also my wife has done well, so it was possible to achieve this.” Sherman is still campaigning despite the fact that some of the unusual aspects of his candidacy are being questioned. Sherman was last week in Pascagoula to meet with local officials and attend an NAACP annual fundraiser. He was also in Starkville for a candidate dinner and Southaven for another campaign event. Sherman stated, “Everybody that I have spoken to said, “You’re going help us get jobs. Help us fix our healthcare, stop rural hospitals closing down, and work our education system.” I don’t understand why you have to be here for 25 years. I am in the startup industry. As you go down the learning curve you learn what it takes to solve a problem and then you solve it. Sherman stated, “I didn’t spend 10 years studying these different subjects.” Sherman said, “You surround yourself in the right resources and then you execute.”