As Republican Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) gears up to primary incumbent U.S. Senator Roger Wicker in 2018, he’s testing out a new line of attack: Wicker may vote to remove the state’s Confederate monuments. In a Monday night Facebook post, McDaniel wrote the following:
Why Confederate Monuments Are An Issue
- Following the 2015 massacre of African American churchgoers in Charleston by a white supremacist, Wicker appeared on CNN alongside Democratic Senator Cory Booker, where he argued that it was time to put Mississippi’s Confederate emblem-bearing state flag “in a museum.”
- In April, the City of New Orleans began removing monuments dedicated to the Confederacy, including one that explicitly endorsed “white supremacy.” At the same time, the City of Biloxi, Mississippi took down the state flag.
- On Saturday, Mississippi State Representative Karl Oliver (R-Winona) wrote on Facebook that Louisiana leaders who support the removal of Confederate monuments “should be LYNCHED!”
- Despite bipartisan backlash that led to a subsequent apology, many Republican base voters rallied around Oliver in agreement.
- McDaniel may be banking on using cultural issues like the state flag to energize that same base.
- Though Chris McDaniel nearly unseated U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in 2014, a poll last week showed the man who was once a Tea Party favorite falling well behind Wicker in a 2018 Republican primary matchup, with Wicker leading McDaniel 55-30.
- Most alarming for McDaniel, Wicker led him among “strong Republicans favorable to the Tea Party” by 10 points. In order to win, McDaniel needs to shore up his Tea Party base.
- While McDaniel rejected being labeled a “net-Confederate” by opponents in the 2014 race, he may be betting that embracing symbols of the Old South in Trumpian defiance of the culture of “political correctness” could be his path to victory in 2018.