Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant appointed recent Democrat turned Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith on Wednesday to replace retiring U.S. Senator Thad Cochran over the Republican candidate in the race to replace him.
Bryant chose Hyde-Smith despite a Tuesday call from White House officials who warned the Mississippi governor that President Donald Trump would not campaign or endorse her in the November special election, according to Politico. Two White House aides with knowledge of the call said one of the primary reasons cited was that her former Democrat status would lead to a loss in that election.
Republican state senator Chris McDaniel was the only Republican in the race until Bryant tapped Hyde-Smith.
McDaniel warned Breitbart News Sunday radio listeners and the governor just days ago that if the governor made an appointment, it could cause an unnecessary Republican bloodbath leading up to the November special election. He recounted his past work with the governor as well as the governor’s recent trip to Washington, DC, for the State of the Union address. According to McDaniel, Bryant met with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell during the trip, after which the governor told McDaniel that he would not be appointing him to the seat. McDaniel was confident that the decision came from McConnell.
After news broke of Bryant’s appointment, McDaniel again charged the governor with following “the orders of the Washington establishment’s Mitch McConnell” in appointing Hyde-Smith.
Hyde-Smith served as a Democrat in Mississippi in the state Senate starting in 2000, but she switched to the Republican Party in 2010 before leaving her seat in January 2012. She chaired the legislative body’s Agriculture committee starting in 2004. She took up the position of Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce the day that she left the State Senate.
“Knowing the establishment’s opposition to conservatives, it was not at all surprising that they would choose a former Democrat,” said McDaniel. He pointed to the November election where he said Mississippians will get to “choose from among the Democratic candidates or they can vote for a lifelong conservative Republican.”
“The establishment should have learned their lesson in Alabama. By spending millions of dollars against conservative Mo Brooks, they ended up losing the seat to a Democrat. Now, they are going to appoint one in Mississippi,” he continued. “Instead of unifying around my candidacy, and beating the Democrats, the establishment is once again going to waste millions of dollars of donors’ money over what should have been a safe Republican seat in Mississippi.”
McDaniel charged that “the DC establishment would rather let a Democrat have the seat than let a conservative win.”
Republicans have struggled to pass items on President Trump and Republicans’ agenda with the extremely slim Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. Republicans currently hold just a one-vote majority, with a few of those Republicans killing some Republican bills with no votes.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana