The GOP establishment can’t make Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel go away.
On Friday, McDaniel will be announcing—he told Breitbart News exclusively—a new Political Action Committee (PAC) designed to help conservatives across Mississippi, and the nation, get elected to political office, replacing GOP establishment politicians.
The PAC, titled the United Conservatives Fund will focus on “electing conservatives and holding Republicans accountable while messaging conservatism in a way that secures conservatives get a chance to be elected even over some of those in the establishment,” McDaniel tells Breitbart.
What we’re focused on here is a couple of things: The first is we’re creating an organization that speaks directly to conservatism, not to party. Second, we want an organization that will focus on outreach. We do outreach based on logical and intricate messaging. And lastly, we’ve got to be able to hold our officials accountable because despite the grassroots complaining and despite our wishes, so far the Republican leadership in the establishment has ignored us. This fund will be used to make them listen to us once and for all.
McDaniel is the man for the job.
A state senator in one of reddest states in the south, McDaniel ran for U.S. Senate in a Republican primary against then-six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran last year. McDaniel beat Cochran in the primary on June 3, but because of a third candidate in the race McDaniel was kept under 50 percent and had to face Cochran in a runoff on June 24.
Over the course of the ensuing three weeks, Cochran and his allies hatched a plan to play the race card, convincing select Democratic voters in the black community to cross over and vote for Cochran in the Republican primary runoff. Some of his idea men included Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s top 2012 campaign strategist, and Austin and Henry Barbour, nephews of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, as well as several others.
On June 24, McDaniel won more Republican votes in the primary runoff—but Cochran won re-election that day because enough Democrats crossed over and voted for him. The GOP base in Mississippi has essentially been in open rebellion against the Washington Republican establishment ever since. It could come back to bite establishment Republicans whose operatives engaged in these tactics. That includes Romney and now former Texas Gov. Rick Perry—who hired Henry Barbour as a political consultant.
It could also damage establishment Republicans throughout Mississippi, where Haley Barbour has—according to Politico—maintained a “Godfather-like” type control over politics, but has seen that grasp slipping in the past couple years. In 2015, every statewide elected official—and every state house and state senate member—who supported the Barbours’ actions and other GOP establishment actions over the past several years will need to face re-election.
Instead of coasting back into their jobs, however, the new effort McDaniel is officially leading is aimed at wreaking havoc on the good-old-boys in Mississippi’s GOP establishment: They’re going to face well-funded and trained primary challengers, with a serious counter-narrative being put forward for the first time in the state from an official entity outside that of either the Republican or Democratic parties. McDaniel tells Breitbart News:
Mississippi is still an extremely important place because of what happened in June. We recognize that the establishment showed their true colors in Mississippi. What we want to make sure is that what happened on June 24 never happens again. The idea that Republicans would pull in 50,000 Democrats to defeat a conservative should be appalling to anyone with reasonable sensibilities. We have to make sure that never occurs again and we have to make sure that those who did that are held accountable. This is going to be a nationwide organization, but Mississippi right now is still right in the heart of the battle for conservatism.
In Washington, D.C. this week, for example, establishment Republicans are pushing a border bill from House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX). He says his bill is the “strongest” on border security in the history of Congress. Senate Immigration Subcommittee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) disagrees. Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), echoing Sessions’ criticisms of McCaul’s bill, even said that McCaul’s bill is a “Trojan Horse” for amnesty by Republican leaders using it as what Sessions calls a “cover vote” to help members claim they’re tough on the border.
Meanwhile, Republican leadership officials in the U.S. House completely imploded on a scheduled vote on an anti-abortion bill just ahead of the March For Life. In that case, a handful of liberal Republican women including Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) blocked a measure that had passed, word-for-word, just last year.
McDaniel says this kind of behavior from Washington establishment Republicans is unacceptable, and his PAC is going to work in Mississippi and across the country to change that as swiftly as possible.
“What we need is more Cruzes and Lees,” McDaniel said, referencing conservative warriors Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), “and less of the typical Republican politicians. These are serious times and because these times are serious we expect our leaders to stand up and to fight for our beliefs. This Republican Party just seems to give lip service to our beliefs but they haven’t engaged where we expect them to.”
McDaniel said he thinks “there will be some challenges” to many of the GOP establishment figures in state offices right now, but he said “we have to remember we have to begin to set the field of battle and we have to do it in a manner that enables conservative challengers to be successful.”
One of the reasons the establishment has maintained its level of success is because they do have a mechanism for messaging, and they have a mechanism for fundraising. Until we can determine a way where we can level the playing field on messaging and fundraising, we’re always going to be at a disadvantage. That’s the reason we created the United Conservatives Fund. It’s going to initially focus on those two areas where traditionally conservatives have been weakened.
The establishment hates McDaniel, of course. After the election, hit pieces on McDaniel have continued popping up as the GOP infrastructure in Washington is still scrambling to explain why it did what it did. For instance, in the New York Times on the day after Republicans nationwide took control of the U.S. Senate, a headline glared: “Republicans’ First Step Was to Handle Extremists in Party.”
In the piece, GOP operatives essentially bragged about how they—with a lot of help from newly crowned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others—stomped McDaniel. It didn’t stop there.
Just this past week, a columnist at the Jackson Clarion-Ledger—the local newspaper of record in Mississippi that ran hit pieces on McDaniel while frequently giving Cochran a pass—hit him again for supposedly missing time in the new session of the state senate. It turns out that piece wasn’t accurate: McDaniel has been working in the state senate every day since the new session began.
Nonetheless, McDaniel told Breitbart News he fully expects the onslaught of gutter politics from the GOP establishment to continue.
I don’t think they’ll ever stop attacking me. Because they recognize that on the night of June the 24th, we received right at about 60 percent of the Republican vote. They understand that the numbers are with us. The people are with us. The hardworking Mississippians are with us. It’s worrisome to them. Keep in mind, June 24 was essentially a wake up call. It was our birthday, essentially, for the United Conservatives Fund. There’s no justification whatsoever for race-baiting the way they did. There’s no justification for party-raiding, like they did. None. They know that—they know they had to win using two despicable mechanisms. But for those despicable mechanisms, we would have been successful. I think it worries them. I think any time power is challenged, they react. This is what you’re seeing right now: A reaction of power that is being challenged. They’re not worried about Republican principles. They’re worried about their ability to hold on and make money and retain power. That’s all they want. Yes, they will attack.
The night of June 24, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, McDaniel gave a speech in which he detailed how the Republican establishment—and Cochran’s and the Barbours’ and others’ actions in that primary—meant that this was no longer the party of Ronald Reagan. In the fiery address, in which he vowed to challenge the results—a challenge for which McDaniel produced scores of pages of documents and evidence from polling centers across the state that his allegations were correct, but found opposition in courtrooms and in the state election body to a fair challenge procedure—McDaniel lit into those responsible for jeopardizing the fairness of primary elections for Republicans across his state.
Now, with this new effort and with others such as Col. Rob Maness’ Gator PAC in Louisiana forming around the country, he says, there’s an opportunity to restore the Republican Party’s position as the party of Ronald Reagan.
That’s exactly what we intend to do. We want a party of principle. We want a party of liberty. We want a party that defends the Constitution. Anything less is unacceptable. What we’re witnessing now is not the party of Reagan. The lobbyists, the insiders, they’ve corrupted the party for whatever their own use for it is. We want a party of liberty for all Americans and that’s exactly what the conservative base is calling for.
McDaniel himself may make another run for a higher office soon. He could run for state Attorney General against incumbent Democrat Jim Hood, or he could challenge incumbent Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves—a Republican closely aligned with the Barbours—in 2015. If he doesn’t run for either of those seats, McDaniel has also been talked about as a potential candidate against U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo—an establishment Republican who’s come under particular fire by voting for Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) for Speaker of the House rather than for a Republican alternative as many of his constituents wanted.
For now though, McDaniel isn’t commenting. He said he’s focused on getting United Conservatives Fund off the ground, but will make a decision by the filing deadline in late February regarding any statewide office run in 2015.