Their candidate, State Senator Chris McDaniel, was on the verge of history, within striking distance of defeating establishment Senator Thad Cochran in the primary.
McDaniel beat Cochran in the first round, 49.5% to 49%, but because no candidate received more than 50% of the votes, a runoff election was held.
The establishment pulled no punches and left no stone unturned, it was taking everything they had to beat McDaniel. They lied about him, attacked and smeared him ruthlessly, but it still wasn’t enough, they couldn’t fool the grassroots in Mississippi.
Desperate to hold on to power, Cochran and his establishment friends, aided by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, targeted Democrats in their voter outreach efforts. They succeeded, Cochran beat McDaniel by 2%.
“What happened in Mississippi was appalling,” Senator Ted Cruz told Mark Levin at the time. “Primaries are always rough and tumble. But the conduct of the Washington D.C. machine in the Mississippi runoff was incredibly disappointing…The ads they ran were racially charged false attacks and they were explicit promises to continue and expand the welfare state,” said Cruz.”
The Washington Post notes that Cochran specifically targeted black, Democrat voters to beat McDaniel.
“Cochran defeated McDaniel by some 6,700 votes in the June 24 runoff election. The senator and his allies courted Democratic voters, including many African Americans, a strategy that apparently worked. A Washington Post analysis showed that in 24 counties with a majority black population, turnout increased an average of 40 percent over the primary. In the state’s 58 other counties, the increase was 16 percent. Democratic voters were allowed to cast ballots in the GOP runoff provided they did not vote in the Democratic primary.”
Four years later, McDaniel is once again gearing up to challenge an incumbent, establishment Senator, this time it’s Roger Wicker.
McDaniel will be holding a rally Wednesday where he is expected to announce his candidacy against Wicker, just one day before the state’s March 1st deadline.
Wicker’s ratings from conservative groups paint an ugly picture: he has a 35% Liberty Score, a 66% rating from FreedomWorks, a 30% rating from Conservative Review, and a 69% rating from the conservative organization Club For Growth.
Wicker has consistently voted to raise the debt ceiling, supported an internet sales tax, voted against banning pet projects for DC politicians known as “earmarks,” and even voted against Mike Lee’s proposal to end Obamacare in 2013.
Wicker also voted against a version of “the penny plan,” which would balance the federal budget deficit in just a few years by reducing spending by 1%. Wicker wouldn’t even back a .5% reduction!
Perhaps that’s why Wicker performed extremely poorly in a recent JMC poll of Mississippi voters. Only 43% of respondents have a favorable view of Wicker, and it just gets worse: a mere 38% of those polled would vote for Wicker in the primary.
David Drucker, a reporter with the Washington Examiner, recently said in a Twitter statement that Club For Growth may back McDaniel over Wicker.
@club4growth tells me they cld back Chris McDaniel over @RogerWicker in #MSSEN GOP primary: “We’re strongly considering it. Sen Wicker has a dismal lifetime score of 69 percent on the C4G Foundation’s scorecard.”
Club For Growth won’t be McDaniel’s only ally if they get behind him. A Super PAC called “Remember Mississippi,” dedicated to that controversial 2014 race between McDaniel and Cochran, says they are behind McDaniel and they already have $1 million to spend to defeat Wicker.
According to USA Today:
“An outside group aligned with Chris McDaniel, the Mississippi state senator likely to take on veteran Sen. Roger Wicker, has amassed more than $1 million in cash reserves for a Republican primary battle.
The so-called Remember Mississippi super PAC raised $1 million last year, fueled by big donations from hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and Richard Uihlein, an Illinois-based packaging magnate who has backed upstart Republican candidates around the country…
McDaniel, however, is a well-known figure to Republican donors after nearly vanquishing Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran in a 2014 Senate race. Conservatives in the state have adopted the war cry of “Remember Mississippi” to argue that establishment figures improperly rallied around Cochran to rob McDaniel of the seat.”
Wicker is no stranger to controversy.
As a Congressman, Wicker received over $20,000 from Indian Tribes tied to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Wicker even took money from Abramoff himself.
In 2011, an aide was busted for running an illegal strip club, but Wicker decided to keep him on staff after charges were dropped. Wicker was also chided in conservative circles in 2015 for caving in to liberal hysteria over the Mississippi flag, which features a Confederate emblem. Wicker said the flag “belongs in a museum.”
Wicker also raised eyebrows last year for comments about the Senate’s teen interns, known as “pages,” that many found to be creepy.
When McDaniel takes the stage at his rally tomorrow, he will do so as a much wiser man than in 2014, he’s seen this movie before. McDaniel knows how far the establishment will go to win, the dirty tricks they use, and the sickening games they play.
With lessons learned from 2014, McDaniel is ready for battle, and with an army of conservative grassroots behind him, still seething from the 2014 race, make no mistake, Roger Wicker, Mitch McConnell, and their establishment friends are absolutely petrified. As they should be.