Mississippi Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel is expected to announce a primary challenge to GOP Sen. Roger Wicker this week, according to a source close to his campaign.
McDaniel held a Facebook Live event Monday night to invite supporters to a rally he’s holding Wednesday, where he is expected to announce his candidacy.
“I’m going to be holding an event, and I think you can probably read between the lines as to why I’ll be holding an event,” McDaniel told his Facebook audience. He said he’s looking forward to seeing “his friends from 2014.”
McDaniel has been eyeing a Senate bid but has been waiting to see whether Sen. Thad Cochran, whom he came close to unseating in 2014, sticks around. Cochran isn’t up for re-election until 2020, but the octogenarian has suffered from health problems and could step down this year.
The filing deadline to run for Senate is March 1. The primary is June 5. McDaniel had also expressed interested in running for lieutenant governor.
A super PAC supporting McDaniel released a statement Monday in anticipation of McDaniel’s announcement.
“We are looking forward to the announcement and certainly hope Chris McDaniel challenges Senator Wicker,” said Tommy Barnett, treasurer of Remember Mississippi PAC, which ended 2017 with $852,000.
“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. Bring it on,” Barnett added.
Wicker, the former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is seen as a tougher incumbent to beat than Cochran was in 2014. During that race, McDaniel narrowly defeated Cochran in the June primary but fell short of a clear majority, triggering a runoff. Cochran then won the runoff.
Wicker had $4.1 million in his campaign account at the end of 2017. His campaign released two ads on Monday. One features state Sen. David Parker vouching for Wicker. It’s running on Fox in DeSoto County, which Parker represents. A second ad featuring veterans is running in the Laurel and Hattiesburg area.
“I want to continue working with President Trump to grow our economy, secure our borders, and keep Americans safe,” Wicker said in a statement Monday.
“Our campaign will continue the hard work to organize volunteers in all 82 Mississippi counties and earn the trust and support of voters in the Republican primary and general election this year,” Wicker said.
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