Tea Party Targets Thad Cochran's Mississippi Senate Seat
State Sen. Chris McDaniel, a conservative endorsed by a litany of conservative groups like the Club For Growth, Tea Party Express, Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and Madison Project, is the tip of the spear in the latest Tea Party vs. Republican establishment fight, DeWayne Wickham wrote in USA Today on Tuesday.
McDaniel has announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate and is running for the seat that establishment-minded incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) currently holds. Cochran has yet to announce whether he will seek a seventh term in the Senate, but if he does, it could “shape up to be the Republican's Party's Battle of Bull Run.”
“The early GOP Senate primary warring in Indiana, Delaware and Colorado took place on the fringe of the Republican heartland,” Wickham wrote. “The fight unfolding in Mississippi is at its core.”
Jackson State University’s Institute of Government executive director Otha Burton, Jr. said this race could break the backs of the GOP establishment. "There's definitely a war going on in the Republican Party, and I think the ultraconservative message of the Tea Party has gotten some traction here," Burton said. "If [McDaniel] challenges Cochran and wins, it will cause a panic button to sound for the Republican Party's establishment."
Wickham quotes former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, once a chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), telling the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, MI that he thinks what the Tea Party is doing is a “losing strategy.”
“I think it is a losing strategy, because the public knows what Cochran's done,” Barbour said. “But you've got a bunch of money from New York and all over from these groups that are putting up all the money, and they are led by people who have said, 'We would rather have 30 pure conservative senators than the majority.' Well, I'd rather have the majority, so that conservatives can make the policies that set the direction for the country.”
McDaniel’s candidacy in the state is gaining steam quickly and could be the Tea Party’s best opportunity for an upset against the GOP establishment.