State Sen. Chris McDaniel is expected to announce his Republican primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker during a Wednesday rally, sources close to the campaign confirmed Monday.
McDaniel held a Facebook Live broadcast Monday night to announce a rally at Jones County Junior College at noon Wednesday. During the social media broadcast, he strongly telegraphed his intention, saying “you can read between the lines” as to why he was holding a Wednesday event.
“We’re looking for a fight, and I can’t wait for you to be on my team again,” McDaniel said as he spoke from what appeared to be a hotel room.
The deadline to qualify for the Republican primary is 5 p.m. Thursday.
McDaniel has since last year also talked up the possibility of running for Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, should the senior senator from Mississippi resign before his term ends, or waiting until his term ends in 2020. McDaniel has also talked about running for lieutenant governor next year.
McDaniel, a Republican from Ellisville, nearly ousted Cochran with a tea party-fueled primary challenge in 2014 that drew national attention. McDaniel unsuccessfully challenged his loss in court and never conceded the race, which he said was stolen from him by Democrats voting for Cochran in a Republican primary.
More recently, McDaniel was listed among Steve Bannon’s choices to challenge Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s establishment leadership. But Bannon’s ignominious departure from the White House as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist and his fallout with Trump appeared to put a halt to that movement.
McDaniel told the Clarion Ledger in mid-November that he was “at peace” with a decision whether to challenge Wicker, and that he would announce his plans “in a matter of weeks.” But that was before Bannon’s meltdown.
In a recent interview, McDaniel said he had to re-examine and re-calculate the political situation, and postponed his decision.
“Before Trump, before Bannon, we were fighting to bring change to Washington,” McDaniel said in the interview a few weeks ago. “Our original goal was to drain the swamp, and that hasn’t changed.”
Trump has vowed support for Wicker and recently Wicker announced he’s been endorsed by dozens of Trump’s Mississippi campaign chairmen and co-chairmen.
McDaniel said he still supports Trump, but believes Trump is surrounded by too many Washington insiders, particularly on Capitol Hill.
“The machine is vast,” McDaniel said in the recent interview. “… When the people of Mississippi see Roger Wicker’s record, they will not support him. He has a 24-year record of liberalism. Tying to (Trump’s) coattails for six months does not change him being a swamp creature.”
The Wicker campaign would not comment on McDaniel on Monday.
The Remember Mississippi super PAC that supports McDaniel on Monday released a statement urging McDaniel to “Bring it on” and reiterating the PAC’s recent report that it had raised more than $1 million.
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