The conservative firebrand from Mississippi is eyeing Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker’s seat.
When Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel challenged incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran for his U.S. Senate in 2014, one of the wildest campaigns in Mississippi history unfolded.
That’s not hyperbole. Just consider: A nursing home was broken into, a blogger was sentenced to prison, a supporter committed suicide, a group of Tea Partiers got locked in the Hinds County Courthouse with the ballots while playing Scooby-Doo on election night, and the primary went to a second-round runoff that nearly tore the Republican Party in two.
When McDaniel lost by the smallest of margins, his camp blamed Cochran and the state GOP’s outreach to black Democrats.
Now, it looks like McDaniel may be ready to take another stab at running for U.S. Senate.
In an interview with the National Journal, McDaniel suggested that incumbent U.S. Senator Roger Wicker might be easier to beat than Cochran.
“I don’t think I’m the underdog,” McDaniel told the Journal. “Cochran was next in line to be Appropriations Chairman, and Cochran was incredibly popular in Mississippi.”
McDaniel called Cochran a “much more formidable opponent” than Wicker, and said he would make a decision by the end of the year.
Wicker, though, is wasting no time, as he and the Republican establishment have already begun prepping for a likely challenge from McDaniel. That gives Wicker a head start that Cochran never had.
In 2014, then-reality TV star Donald Trump Tweeted an endorsement of McDaniel.
I hope voters in Mississippi cast their ballot for @senatormcdaniel. He is strong, he is smart & he wants things to change in Washington.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2014
McDaniel has been critical of the healthcare plan that President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are both stumping for, but has veered away from casting blame on Trump, instead blaming “D.C. establishment Republicans.”
Likewise, Mississippi Conservative Daily, a blog for McDaniel devotees, is already taking shots at Wicker for not speaking out against “Paul Ryan’s Obamacare 2.0 bill” – while avoiding references to Trump’s support of it.
If McDaniel does challenge Wicker, Wicker will likely have an advantage when it comes to fundraising and connections. But as DailyKos points out, if Trump’s support for McDaniel should reemerge, Wicker could be only one presidential tweet away from a campaign crisis.