On the eve of Tea Party favorite State Sen. Chris McDaniel’s announcement on Wednesday of his challenge to incumbent establishment GOP Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) for the Republican party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi, President Trump tweeted his endorsement of Wicker.
.@SenatorWicker of Mississippi has been a great supporter and incredible help in getting our massive Tax Cut Bill done and approved. Also big help on cutting regs. I am with him in his re-election all the way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
Tuesday’s presidential tweet was followed up on Wednesday with a formal endorsement of Wicker by the Trump Campaign.
“Lara Trump, Senior Advisor for Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., announced the support of the Trump Campaign for Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi in his reelection campaign,” the Trump campaign said Wednesday as it released this statement:
Since 2007, Roger Wicker has served the great state of Mississippi to effectively promote economic growth and manufacturing initiatives for his constituents. Senator Wicker was a great supporter of President Trump’s historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and is the type of leader the President needs to support his agenda ahead to create more jobs and economic opportunities for all Americans. We are pleased to announce our support for Senator Wicker to win his reelection and serve the state of Mississippi for another six years.
The move is similar to Trump’s decision in August to endorse establishment GOP incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the Alabama U.S. Senate special election Republican primary over conservatives Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Roy Moore, and it will not be well received by Trump’s loyal conservative grassroots base.
Moore and Strange finished in the top two in the August primary, and faced off in a September 25 primary runoff, which Moore won handily, 54 percent to 45 percent.
Unlike Moore, whose candidacy was destroyed subsequent to his primary runoff victory over Strange in September by numerous allegations of inappropriate conduct with young women, McDaniel has no such potential liabilities. In addition, unlike Moore, McDaniel is an articulate presenter of conservative political principles.
Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) defeated Moore in the December 12 Alabama U.S. Senate special general election by a little more than one percent.
McDaniel finished ahead of incumbent establishment GOP Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the June 2014 primary, but was just shy of the 50 percent margin needed to be declared the victor. In the subsequent runoff election held three weeks later, Cochran narrowly defeated McDaniel to retain his seat, the beneficiary of ruthless establishment GOP campaign tactics grassroots conservatives in the state considered illegal and unfair.
McDaniel and Wicker will face off in the 2018 Republican primary on June 5, a little more than three months from today.
The most recent poll of likely Republican primary voters, conducted by JMC Analytics between February 15 and 17, shows Wicker with a substantial 38 percent to 20 percent lead over McDaniel, whose announcement comes fairly late in the primary campaign season on the day before the March 1 filing deadline.
By backing the establishment GOP’s candidate in a state where conservative grassroots activists have bitter memories of how the 2014 Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate was stolen from McDaniel, Trump runs the risk of doing the one thing he must not do in order to avoid a “Blue Wave” in the 2018 Congressional midterms — de-energizing his own conservative base.