Tag Archives: Chris McDaniel

Mississippi Senator Appointed;
Controversy Arises

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith | Photo Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith | Photo Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign

March 23, 2018 — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) at an event in the new Senator-designee’s home community of Brookhaven, a town of 12,000-plus people located due south of Jackson on Interstate 55, announced that Agriculture & Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) will officially replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran (R). The move had been expected since Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) took his name out of consideration for the appointment. As has been known for just over two weeks, the 40-year veteran senator will resign on or around April 1 because of health problems.

Late last week, Gov. Bryant said he would make the appointment before Sen. Cochran officially departs to give his choice more time to prepare for an election campaign that will occur during the regular cycle. All candidates will be listed on the Nov. 6 ballot, and the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to a Nov. 27 run-off election if no one secures majority support.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), who came within 1,800 votes of denying Sen. Cochran re-nomination in 2014, has already announced that he will run for the seat and wasted no time in attacking Hyde-Smith. Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Democratic Congressman Mike Espy declared his candidacy upon Sen. Cochran making public his plans to retire.

McDaniel was originally challenging Sen. Roger Wicker (R), whose seat is in-cycle this year, but quickly transitioned into the special election once Sen. Cochran decided to resign. McDaniel has already reportedly written President Trump a letter asking him not to support Hyde-Smith because she is a former Democrat.

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Wicker Dodges McDaniel in Mississippi

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville)

March 16, 2018 — Just before the Mississippi candidate deadline approached on March 1, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), who came within 1,719 votes of denying Sen. Thad Cochran (R) re-nomination in the 2014 Republican primary, filed to challenge Sen. Roger Wicker (R) in this year’s June primary.

The move appeared dubious since McDaniel was just beginning a campaign in early March and Sen. Wicker, whose campaign committee has well over $4 million in the bank, was well prepared for a serious challenge coming from his Tea Party opponent.

Once again, it appears Sen. Cochran has factored into McDaniel’s political future. With the senator announcing that he will end his 40-year senatorial career next month — the tenth longest Senate tenure in American history — the southeastern Mississippi conservative state legislator announced Wednesday that he will already abandon his challenge against Wicker, and instead enter the special election to replace Sen. Cochran.

Under Mississippi succession law, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) will appoint an interim replacement after Cochran officially leaves office. The interim senator will be eligible to stand for election when the people have a chance to vote in the special election to be held concurrently with the regular election calendar.

Unlike in many states, there will be no nomination cycle for the Mississippi special election. All candidates, presumably including the interim senator, will be placed on the general election ballot. Should no one receive an absolute majority, the top two finishers will advance to a secondary run-off election three weeks after the regular general election. This date, according to the 2018 calendar, would be Nov. 27, or two days before Thanksgiving.

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McDaniel Joins Mississippi Senate Race

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville)

March 2, 2018 — Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) announced at a rally this week that he will challenge Sen. Roger Wicker (R) in the June 5 Republican primary. McDaniel’s declaration, which had been speculated upon for months, came just before the state’s candidate filing deadline, which was yesterday.

In 2014, McDaniel came within an eyelash of denying Sen. Thad Cochran (R) re-nomination, as the incumbent was saved ironically through a reported deal made with African American leaders to deliver black votes for the senator in the Republican run-off.

In his original primary against Sen. Cochran, McDaniel actually placed first, but was denied winning the party nomination because he finished 1,719 votes away from attracting majority support. This forced the secondary run-off election. The presence of a third candidate in that primary race, the little-known Thomas Carey, who received 4,854 votes, created the dynamic for the run-off. Had Carey not been a candidate, McDaniel would have successfully won the GOP nomination, and would very likely be serving in the Senate today.

But a race against Sen. Wicker will be much different. Though McDaniel did very well in his challenge to Sen. Cochran, he still failed to win. Therefore, some of the luster his grassroots supporters had for him as a candidate may have faded at least to a degree.

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Southern Polls

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 22, 2017 — If the Democrats are going to make a concerted run at the Senate majority, they must protect all 10, and possibly 11, of their vulnerable states, and then convert both the Arizona and Nevada Republican seats. Or, they must score at least one major upset in what should be a safe Republican domain if they don’t succeed in achieving all of the aforementioned.

democrat-conversion-opportunities-mississippi-tennesseeAlabama Senator-Elect Doug Jones’ (D) victory earlier this month makes attaining a Democratic majority mathematically possible even though the party must now defend 26 of 34 in-cycle seats next year when adding the new Minnesota special election to the calendar.

Wednesday, two polls were reported in 2018 southern Republican states: Tennessee and Mississippi.

The Democrats’ chances in the Volunteer State, though still in the long-shot sphere, have improved since former Gov. Phil Bredesen agreed to run for the Senate.

WPA Intelligence, polling for the Super PAC, Defend the President, a group supporting Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) in her battle for the open Senate seat (Dec. 13,14,17; 500 likely Tennessee general election voters) found the congresswoman leading former Gov. Bredesen by a healthy 43-34 percent margin. If ex-Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) were the Republican nominee, however, the race flips. Here, Bredesen would hold a 42-30 percent advantage.

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Could Bannon Cost the GOP?

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 13 2017 — Several articles have surfaced this week speculating that former presidential advisor Steve Bannon wanting to find and support challengers to Republican Senate incumbents could cost the GOP its majority. It appears individuals making such a claim have forgotten how to count.

Keeping in mind that the Democrats must protect 25 of 33 in-cycle Senate seats, there are simply not enough legitimate targets available for the minority to change their status within the chamber, even though they need a net gain of only three seats. Yes, the Dems are forcing Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) into toss-up situations, but the remaining six GOP incumbents are some of the safest in the Senate. So, even if Bannon or other conservative insurgents recruit opposition to incumbents, the chances of the eventual Republican nominee losing the general election in these particular states are extremely low.

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The Primary Fallout

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 29, 2017 — Former Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s victory in Tuesday’s special Senate run-off election has created a media narrative suggesting that statewide GOP primary challenges will soon be sweeping the political scene, but such simply won’t happen.

While Judge Moore’s win may give legs to one adjacent budding Senate primary challenge, the number isn’t going expand due to the 2018 electoral set-up. That is, few Republicans, eight to be exact, are in-cycle for the coming election and the two most vulnerable situations already feature incumbents engaged with primary opponents.

Additionally, the Moore-Sen. Luther Strange contest had unique characteristics that made a primary victory over this particular incumbent more likely, if not probable. Strange, then Alabama’s attorney general, receiving the vacancy appointment in “swamp-like” fashion from a governor trying to avoid impeachment, and using the Senate appointment process to game the system so that he could later choose the person who would continue the legal investigation of himself, cast Strange in a negative light from his very first day in Washington.

Furthermore, the new senator attracted only 32 percent in his first election, meaning that two-thirds of his own party’s Aug. 15 primary voters turned away from him at their first opportunity, was a clear signal that Strange’s appointment was met with widespread dissatisfaction and that the former AG wouldn’t last long in his new job.

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Senate: Utah & Mississippi

By Jim Ellis

March 13, 2017 — Originally elected in 1976, no Republican senator has served longer than Utah’s Orrin Hatch, and he is the eighth longest-serving member in American history. At the end of last week, he informed the media that he’s “planning on” running for an eighth term in 2018.

In 2012, Sen. Hatch indicated that he would be serving his final term upon election that year, but now his intention has apparently changed. The press office statement proved less definitive than Sen. Hatch’s words, however, suggesting that there is still a possibility for retirement.

“Senator Hatch appreciates the encouragement he’s receiving to run for reelection. While he has not made a final decision about his plans for 2018, he has made plans thus far to ensure all options remain on the table,” came the official statement clarifying the Senator’s earlier comments.

Earlier in the year, former governor and US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman (R), indicated an interest in running for the Senate. He said at the time that he did not intend to challenge Sen. Hatch, should the latter decide to seek re-election. With Huntsman now appearing to be President Trump’s choice for Ambassador to Russia, it is unlikely that he will be in the Senate campaign picture irrespective of what Sen. Hatch decides.

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Early Primary Races

Dec. 2, 2015 — The early presidential calendar brings March congressional primaries to seven states. Instead of doubling the election cost with a stand-alone presidential primary followed by a commensurate state nomination event later in the year, several legislatures decided to move their entire cycle to an unusually early calendar slot.

The March primary states, aside from Texas and Illinois, which normally hold their nomination voting then, are: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio.

March 1

Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby faces Republican primary opposition from four opponents, one of whom, businessman Jonathan McConnell, could self-fund a campaign should he choose to do so. This is a good example of where the short time frame hurts potential challengers. Sen. Shelby should have little problem disposing of his competition to win re-nomination for a sixth term. Should Shelby fall below 50 percent, a run-off election would be held on April 12.

All seven House members are seeking re-election. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1), Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL-2), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL-3) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4) all face Republican opposition. All are favored to win without a run-off.

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A Budding Primary Challenge in MS-4

MARCH 2, 2015 — It’s rare that we cover state legislative candidates in these columns, but a new Mississippi political development may serve as a precursor to a major 2016 congressional challenge.

Chris McDaniel is the state senator who came so very close to denying Sen. Thad Cochran (R) re-nomination last year. Yesterday, McDaniel announced that he is seeking re-election to the legislature in Mississippi’s odd-numbered off-year state elections.

Since the Magnolia State does not host a US Senate race in 2016, McDaniel was asked in an interview if he is planning to challenge 4th District three-term Rep. Steven Palazzo in next year’s Republican primary. While not flatly answering “yes”, McDaniel admitted that he would “prefer a federal position.”
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McDaniel’s Mississippi Senate Challenge

Media coverage is increasing in what may be an impending legal challenge to the Mississippi US Senate Republican run-off election result from defeated candidate Chris McDaniel. Yesterday, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the vice-chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that legal authorities should investigate irregularities surrounding the voting in the June 24 electoral contest, and McDaniel’s own attorney indicated an official challenge is imminent.

Now certified as a 7,667-vote loser to Sen. Thad Cochran, McDaniel has a daunting task before him if he is to achieve his eventual goal of reversing the result.

At the heart of the issue is that many of the new voters who cast ballots in the run-off election did not participate in the Republican primary. Under Mississippi election law, there is no requirement to vote in a primary election prior to being part of the associated run-off. It is illegal, however, for a voter to cast a ballot in a primary of one party and then participate in the run-off of the opposite party. According to the McDaniel campaign, thousands of Democrats voted in their own primary and then appeared at Republican run-off polling  Continue reading >

Cochran Victory Reverses History

Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) amazing comeback victory in Tuesday’s run-off election in Mississippi changed political voting history in three ways.

First, the Cochran campaign and their allies increased the number of voters who participated in the nomination process, something not thought practically possible. In the June 3 primary, 313,483 people voted in the Republican senatorial primary. On Tuesday, 376,323 ballots were cast, meaning a minimum of 62,840 individuals who did not vote in the primary participated in the  Continue reading >

Cochran Defies Pollsters; Lankford, Clawson, Rangel Win


Defying all pollsters’ projections, veteran Sen. Thad Cochran rebounded from his under-performance in the June 3 primary election to win the Mississippi run-off campaign. State Sen. Chris McDaniel came within one-half percent of claiming the Republican nomination in the primary vote, but failed to capitalize on his early momentum.

Virtually all published polling projected the 42-year congressional veteran to be falling significantly behind his Tea Party-backed Republican challenger. Yet, the actual results gave the incumbent a 51-49 percent victory, a margin of 6,373 votes out of the 372,000-plus ballots cast, some 60,000 more than were recorded in the primary. Therefore, the secondary election campaign defied not only the pollsters who almost unanimously predicted a McDaniel win going away, but also voter history that virtually always sees an incumbent lose a run-off election when forced into one. Additionally, this run-off produced more  Continue reading >

Challenges for Incumbents Continue

Yesterday, we covered several polls that showed incumbents – senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mark Udall (D-CO) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), in addition to Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) – trailing their challenger opponents (Incumbent Surprises Lining Up, June 16). Today, that trend continues.


The run-off election to decide Mississippi’s Republican senatorial nominee is just a week away, and the polling company inc./Woman Trend for the Citizens’ United organization (June 12-13; 501 likely Mississippi Republican run-off voters) commissioned a survey, which finds challenger Chris McDaniel beginning to pull away from Sen. Thad Cochran. The results yield McDaniel a 52-40 percent margin. If leaners to each candidate are removed, the total becomes 47-37 percent in favor of the challenger.

Some interesting findings are included in the survey report. First, both men brandish a 93 percent loyalty factor within their own voter base. That is, 93 percent of the respondents saying they will vote either for  Continue reading >

Post-Primary Mississippi Polling Gives McDaniel the Edge; California Counting Continues

The first two public polls were just released in the Cochran-McDaniel Republican senatorial run-off campaign (June 24 election), and both the Democratic and Republican survey research firms conducting the studies arrived at the same conclusion: challenger Chris McDaniel is leading.

As you will remember, last Tuesday’s Mississippi primary contest found incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel headed to a run-off because neither garnered an outright majority of the vote. McDaniel placed first with 49.4 percent as compared to Sen. Cochran’s 49.0 percent.

The Democratic polling firm, Chism Strategies, which may have been the most accurate bellwether in the primary (predicted a 46-44 percent McDaniel lead going into Election Day), returns for the run-off. Their new data (June 5; 835 likely Mississippi Republican run-off voters, self-identifying as primary voters and  Continue reading >

Late Primary Wrap-ups


Now with 100% of the precincts finally reporting, US senatorial challenger Chris McDaniel and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) are advancing to a Republican run-off election on June 24. The primary ended in a razor-thin result, as we now all know, with McDaniel finishing first and coming within 1,702 votes of clinching the nomination. Because McDaniel and Cochran virtually split the votes evenly – McDaniel 49.4 percent; Cochran 49.0 percent – realtor Tom Carey’s 1.6 percent finish forced the two major candidates into a secondary election.

Though the spread between the two leaders is only 1,386 votes, McDaniel is already establishing early momentum for the run-off. With analysts conceding that McDaniel has the more committed following, and therefore a base of support more likely to vote in a summer run-off election, the signs are pointing to an upset. While the Club for Growth is committed to spending on McDaniel’s behalf in the run-off, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads  Continue reading >