It’s déjà vu in Mississippi, as state Sen. Chris McDaniel is expected to launch another Senate primary challenge from his hometown of Ellisville. But while it took a Haley Barbour-led, all-hands-on-deck effort to defeat him in the 2014 runoff, McDaniel will find a far different landscape when he enters the race Wednesday, one day before the state filing deadline.
Four and a half years ago, McDaniel kicked off his campaign as a Club for Growth-backed, Ted Cruz-aligned conservative in the middle of an antiestablishment uprising over the future of the party, and just as Sen. Thad Cochran—who hadn’t yet decided whether to seek reelection—reported raising $53,000 in the previous quarter and voted to reopen the government.
He’ll get in this time with Republicans in complete control of Washington and little doubt about the face of the party. That makes President Trump’s Tuesday night endorsement of Sen. Roger Wicker, who raised $953,000 over the last three months of 2017 and had more than $4 million on hand, all the more damaging to McDaniel’s chances.
Still, McDaniel is likely better prepared as he launches another challenge, including benefiting from a well-funded super PAC already on his side, and the Alabama special election showed Trump’s endorsement isn’t necessarily a silver bullet.
— Kyle Trygstad