Roger Wicker Still Running, But Checking Right Flank

Former NRSC chairman could face primary foe who almost felled Thad Cochran

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., says he is not contemplating retirement and will continue to run for re-election in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Roger Wicker on Wednesday said he is not contemplating retirement and plans to run for re-election in 2018.

The Mississippi Republican and former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is said to be a top target of former White House adviser Steve Bannon, who is traveling the country trying to urge more far-right candidates to primary Senate GOP incumbents.

Two of Wicker’s GOP colleagues facing possibly tough primaries next year announced their retirements recently: Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Only eight Republican seats are up in 2018, while 23 Democratic ones are. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Mississippi race as Solid Republican.

In the meantime, Wicker seems to be making moves to show he’s aware of the political environment. 

On Monday, Wicker joined the chorus within the GOP caucus saying the Senate should log longer hours to confirm nominees.

Wicker is one of the few GOP senators facing voters in what could be a tough 2018 landscape for incumbents. His Mississippi colleague, Thad Cochran, had a heck of a time keeping his seat in 2014, and spent millions to turn back state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a primary.

Republican leaders stumbled through an unsuccessful attempt to rewrite U.S. health care law and are now focusing on a tax overhaul as a way to log a legislative victory. Confirming nominees could provide incumbents like Wicker with a bragging point to voters.

“I believe the Senate should stay in session through the night, during weekends, and through state work periods to give President Trump’s nominees the timely consideration they deserve,” Wicker said in a Monday statement. Other senators have called for the same thing, even though there are a host of nominees on the Executive Calendar that Republican leaders have not addressed during regular work hours.

Wicker could be keeping an eye out for McDaniel, whose senatorial aspirations have not dimmed. 

Ed Pesce contributed to this report.

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