Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a hardline conservative who nearly toppled Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the 2014 midterm primaries, told Breitbart News exclusively on Wednesday evening he is considering launching another bid for the U.S. Senate in 2018.
This new bid would come against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), a different but similar U.S. Senator from the Magnolia State, amid concerns over House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare 2.0 plan, the “American Health Care Act.”
McDaniel told Breitbart News:
I am definitely considering another run for U.S. Senate, for precisely the reason that now is the time when Mississippi’s conservatives should be leading the nation in the fight against Obamacare. Rather than championing conservative reform in D.C., Mississippi’s federal delegation — and Roger Wicker in particular — has been silent. Mississippians are among the most conservative people in the republic. We shouldn’t have to beg our Senators to fight for us.
Wicker has until now remained publicly silent on the bill from Ryan and House GOP leaders, even though Ryan’s legislation does not repeal Obamacare, keeps in place the individual mandate but shifts the recipient of the penalty payment from a tax collected by the government to a fee collected by insurance companies, keeps the Obamacare Cadillac Tax in place indefinitely—among many other serious concerns.
Republicans party-wide are rising up against it, from the House Freedom Caucus to Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who does not support the concept, says it does not have enough support to pass the Senate—and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a moderate, says it will not pass the Senate either and that it is dead on arrival should it even reach that chamber. But it is unlikely to get there. The House Freedom Caucus, aides say, is united against the bill, and that is more than enough members to crush it.
But many House Republicans outside the House Freedom Caucus are also against the legislation, their offices tell Breitbart News, with as many as “70 or more” Republicans against Ryan’s bill, according to one aide. Paul told Breitbart News in a recent interview that Ryan appears to be misleading the president when it comes to this bill’s realistic chances in the House–and that it really does appear this bill will fail.
An aide in Wicker’s Senate office, Ryan Taylor, told Breitbart News that Wicker suports Ryan’s Obamacare 2.0 legislation even though it does not repeal Obamacare. He claimed inaccurately in his statement to Breitbart News that the bill does repeal Obamacare. Taylor also attempted to blame President Trump for the proposal, stating inaccurately that it was “the President’s proposal,” not Ryan’s bill.
“Sen. Wicker is working with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and most Republicans to pass the President’s proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Taylor said, providing—when Breitbart News offered him an opportunity to amend that part of his statement and his claim the bill repeals Obamacare—a screenshot of President Trump’s Tweet announcing that Ryan rolled out the bill and that it is up “for review and negotiation.”
“Sen. Wicker is running for re-election and has a campaign manager,” Taylor added, connecting Breitbart News with that campaign manager, Justin Brasell.
“Senator Wicker is taking nothing for granted in his re-election campaign,” Brasell said in a statement. “He has hired a campaign manager, is actively working to raise money and is organizing grassroots support in all 82 counties. He will be ready to once again earn the support of Mississippi voters in 2018, regardless of who runs.”
McDaniel has proven he can win a statewide U.S. Senate race in Mississippi. Back in 2014, McDaniel won more votes than Cochran in the primary, but since both finished under 50 percent plus one vote, it was kicked to a runoff election. In the runoff, McDaniel won more Republican votes than Cochran. And Cochran only won because of a well-funded effort to get Democrats to cross over to vote in an underhanded way in the GOP primary.
McDaniel was endorsed, too, by now-President Donald Trump. Of McDaniel, Trump said, he “is strong, he is smart & he wants things to change in Washington.”
I hope voters in Mississippi cast their ballot for @senatormcdaniel. He is strong, he is smart & he wants things to change in Washington.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2014
In response to President Trump’s endorsement of McDaniel for U.S. Senate back in 2014, Brasell told Breitbart News that “this is a different race” and “Senator Wicker works well with President Trump.”
When Brasell was pressed on why, then, Wicker is not supporting efforts to repeal Obamacare, he told Breitbart News: “He is working with President Trump to repeal and replace Obamacare.” But since the only bill that Wicker’s team is publicly supporting right now on this matter is a bill that does not repeal Obamacare, the American Health Care Act—or Obamacare 2.0 from Paul Ryan—Breitbart News asked Brasell in a follow-up question what specific legislation other than that bill he is backing that repeals Obamacare. He has not answered.
The more important implication than this McDaniel news out of Mississippi, however, is that Ryan’s failure here to deliver a healthcare bill that actually does repeal Obamacare may unleash a wave of primary challenges against incumbent Republicans nationwide in both the House and Senate in 2018. With Republicans in the majority in both the House and Senate, and with a Republican president, a primary challenge wave is the last thing anyone in the Republican Party wants. But Ryan may have just triggered it.