- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2018

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel said Monday that he will be making an official announcement about his political future this week, signaling he could be poised to launch a primary challenge against Republican Sen. Roger Wicker.

“We are looking for a fight, and I can’t wait to have you on my team again,” Mr. McDaniel said on a Facebook live event titled, “It’s Time to Drain the Swamp.”

Mr. McDaniel nearly knocked off Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in the 2014 election and has been mulling over whether he wanted to run against Mr. Wicker, or wait for Mr. Cochran’s seat to open up.

The 45-year-old said Monday he will end the speculation about his political plans Wednesday during an event at Jones County Junior College, where his late father used to teach.

Should he run, Mr. McDaniel will be opening up another front in the battle between the GOP establishment and the party’s insurgent forces.

“I think most conservatives in this country feel that our party, the Republican Party, has lost its foundation,” Mr. McDaniel said Monday. “I think that we feel that it is no longer rooted in something steady, something sure, and because of that we raise our hands to object, we raise our hands to have our voices heard.”

The filing deadline for candidates is on Thursday. The primary election is scheduled for June 5.

In flirting with a Senate bid, Mr. McDaniel has said Mr. Wicker has not been a champion of conservative causes and President Trump’s agenda.

Mr. McDaniel has pointed out the below average scorecards - 65 percent and 30 percent - that Mr. Wicker has received from Heritage Action for American and Conservative Review.

“Where that puts us is in a unique situation here,” Mr. McDaniel told The Washington Times in December. “You represent the most conservative state in the Republic, but you are voting like you represent Maine, you are voting like you represent a portion of Oregon or something. That’s a problem. He is disconnected.”

Mr. McDaniel was one of former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s top recruits in 2018. Mr. McDaniel, though, has distanced himself from Mr. Bannon since his pick in the Alabama Senate race, Roy Moore, loss in stunning fashion and Mr. Trump kicked him to the curb.

Mr. McDaniel has the support of a super PAC called Remember Mississippi that has raised more than $1 million and urged him to run for the U.S. Senate.

The group is named in reference to the 2014 primary race against Mr. Cochran that his supports believe was “stolen” from them.

In that race, Mr. McDaniel eked out a win over Mr. Cochran in the opening round of the GOP primary but fell short of capturing the 50 percent of the vote he needed to win the nomination.

Mr. Cochran proceeded to win another six-year term, though now there are questions over whether he will leave the seat because of health issues.

Tommy Barnett, of the Remember Mississippi super PAC, said they “certainly hope Chris McDaniel challenges Senator Wicker.”

“Mississippi deserves a constitutional conservative who holds the same values as Mississippians and is a consistent and strong voice for them in Washington, DC. We can’t wait to support a McDaniel run,” Mr. Barnett said. “Bring it on.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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