Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Tea Party Candidate Eyes Thad Cochran Primary Challenge

Cochran is considering retirement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., mulls retirement, a local lawmaker is considering a mounting a primary challenge against him in the Magnolia State.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican aligned with the tea party, confirmed to CQ Roll Call this week that he’s considering challenging the six-term senator.

“We are keeping all of our options open because we want to do the right thing for the conservative movement,” McDaniel said in a Wednesday phone interview. “No firm decision has been made one way or the other.”

Many Mississippi Republican emphasized their support for Cochran to seek a seventh term, underscoring his valuable seniority. They are not happy with McDaniel’s interest in ousting him.

“I think he will get his head handed to him, and that will be what he deserves,” Republican lobbyist Henry Barbour said of McDaniel’s potential Senate run in this week’s edition of Farm Team. “[But] it’s a free country.”

McDaniel said that Barbour may be right, but that sentiment would not factor into his decision-making.

“I respect his opinion, but it’s the people’s seat,” McDaniel said. “And if the people speak loud enough, there’s nothing he or anyone else can do.”

McDaniel also confirmed he is  considering a challenge to Republican Rep. Steven M. Palazzo in the 4th District. Palazzo is one of the Club for Growth’s top targets of the cycle, and the conservative group has featured him on its “Primary My Congressman” website. The group has yet to endorse a candidate in that race.

McDaniel said he could not recall if he has met with the group, but he said he has “met with dozens and dozens of groups across the country. ”

While groups like Club for Growth are often powerful forces in GOP primary politics, Mississippi and the tea party have a complex relationship. Mississippi is a conservative state, but it is relatively poor and relies on federal funding.

McDaniel conceded that his home state gets more money back than it sends to the federal government each year.

“It doesn’t change the fact that we have to be responsible,” he said. “We have to begin to make tough decisions.”

For more on Magnolia State politics, check out Thursday’s edition of “Farm Team” Roll Call’s weekly state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.

  • Montesquieu

    While the state can temporarily help the poor by handing them the fruits of others’ labor, plunder rapidly undermines peace and prosperity.

  • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

    Understanding the ignorance of each of us is vital to understanding the development and benefits of morality, liberty, & civilization.

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    Even though liberty unleashes prosperity, it is relentlessly attacked by those attempting to redefine it from “the absence of coercion” to “the power to coerce”.

  • govskeptic

    Many of the folks from Mississippi would welcome just such a challenger. Sen.
    Cochran has had the “Potomac Fever” for several years now. Like McCain,
    Sen. Alexander, and a few others, their Washington Establishment status is
    much more important than home state needs or voters concerns and wishes.
    Feeling bullet proof from the voters has sunk many feeling the same way!

  • golf23ms

    Both Wicker and Cochran need to be voted out

  • gehs72

    Sen Cochran has served the state well for many years. It’s time for him to choose a graceful retirement now to allow an energetic conservative to serve in the Senate from Mississippi.

  • williambova

    McDaniel could not win election as Agriculture Secretary in Mississippi, much less one for the US Senate or the US House. He is a serious lightweight.

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    Since liberty impels a free country’s citizens to unleash their talents, skills, and knowledge, free citizens are able to learn more, know more, and achieve more than those subjected to collectivism’s ever-shifting mirage of illusions.

  • Robert M. McAdam

    It is the people’s seat…not Cochran’s. 36 years is more than enough time. Go do something else with your life Mr. Cochran.
    Also, Henry Barbour couldn’t find Mississippi on a map. He needs to get out of DC more often.

  • I Am Breitbart

    Chris is a good man with a great head on his shoulder! I am all in either way he decides to go! I would be proud to have him in either position!

  • generalgoldstein

    I for one voted every time for Thad. I really appreciate the 36 years I gave him so that he could gather as many mistresses and benefits from lobbyists as he wanted. We shouldn’t vote him out, he should stay in office until he dies. He’s definitely making positive changes for our country.

    P.S. Thad, throw me one of your Mistresses! If you’re not using her, that is.

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