Tag Archives: Sen. Thad Cochran

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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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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Developments in MS-1 Special,
Illinois Senate, Virginia Redistricting

April 1, 2015 — Candidate filing closed this past Friday for the MS-1 special election, which Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s (R) death made necessary. Twelve Republicans and one Democrat will be on the May 12 Mississippi jungle primary ballot. With so many candidates qualifying, a June 2 run-off between the top two finishers is a virtual certainty, since it would be very difficult for any one contender to attract a majority of the vote.

One prominent name missing from the list is former Rep. Travis Childers (D), who won the last special election held here, and then claimed a full term later in 2008. He was unseated in 2010, and then lost to Sen. Thad Cochran (R) last November in a statewide general election contest. Though it is always possible lightning could have again struck for him in a special election, the chance of Childers holding this strongly Republican northern Mississippi district for a long duration is an unlikely one, at best. Hence, his decision not to run.

The lone Democrat running is former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn. His prospects of qualifying for the run-off are somewhat realistic because the Republican vote will be split literally a dozen ways. His prospects are thin, however, to capture the seat in the run-off. Aside from being a prohibitive underdog against a Republican in a one-on-one battle, Zinn’s Jackson political base is not even in the 1st District.
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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 >

Decision Day in Six States


Voters will be casting ballots in six states, and the Mississippi Republican run-off contest between Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel gains top national billing. Most polling suggests that McDaniel, who placed first in the primary with 49.4 percent of the vote, is favored to capture the party nod. His victory would unseat a veteran Republican senator who was first elected to Congress in 1972.


Another US House special election will be decided today as GOP businessman Curt Clawson is poised to win Florida’s 19th Congressional District, left vacant by freshman Rep. Trey Radel’s (R) resignation. Clawson, armed with $2 million of personal money and strong backing from various Tea Party groups, easily won the Republican nomination on April 22. The former Purdue University basketball player will cruise to victory against Democrat April Freeman in the safely Republican seat anchored in the Ft. Myers/Cape Coral area. He will be sworn into office later this week, and then immediately begin running for a full term.  Continue reading >

Anything Could Happen at Saturday’s Iowa Convention

Before Tuesday’s important June 24 primary that will decide Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) fate among many other candidates in six states, a different nominating event will take place. Tomorrow, Republican convention delegates in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District (Des Moines/Council Bluffs) will meet to choose a US House nominee to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Latham as the party standard bearer. Under state election law, if no candidate receives at least 35 percent of the primary vote a post-election convention is called to choose a nominee. The delegates have no limitations over who they can choose.

In the June 3 primary, a very tight contest was held among six candidates, five of whom placed in double-digits. In first position with 25 percent of the vote, but a full 10 percentage points away from winning the nomination, was former state senator and 2010 congressional nominee Brad Zaun. Businessman Robert Cramer was second at 21 percent, followed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz registering 20 percent, association executive Monte Shaw notching 17 percent, and David Young, the former chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who was originally in the US Senate race,  Continue reading >

Vacated Whip Position Draws Most Interest in GOP House Leadership Elections Today

With Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA-7) Republican primary defeat now settling in, the Republican Conference will meet later today to choose his replacement as Majority Leader. Since Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) is a lock to move into Cantor’s position, the competitive battle for the vacated Whip position is drawing the most interest.

Though Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID-1) is challenging McCarthy, the outcome of this internal race is already a foregone conclusion. The Whip’s campaign features Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (R-IL-6), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA-1), and a late entry, Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana.

The question to be answered is whether the Republican Conference as a whole will simply follow the normal leadership succession with McCarthy and Roskam, or will the most conservative wing stand together and choose someone whom they can claim credit for electing, thus simultaneously paying attention to the right flank and the party’s dominant southern vote base.
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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 >