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Chris McDaniel Announcement Sets Mississippi GOP Senate Primary

Our friend, Mississippi’s principled limited government constitutional conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel, has announced his challenge to state’s incumbent establishment Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.

McDaniel summed up the core of his primary platform in a Facebook Live video preview of his announcement from his hometown of Ellisville, Mississippi, saying, “Most conservatives feel that our party, the Republican Wicker McDanielParty, has lost its foundation… We're looking for a fight, and I can't wait to have you on my team again."

"I'm tired of electing people to Washington to score points for the other team," McDaniel told a crowd of about 200 in a packed auditorium at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville. "We've been reaching across the aisle for years and what have we got? Twenty-one trillion reasons not to reach across the aisle anymore.. Wicker votes more often with Charles Schumer than he does with Rand Paul," said McDaniel in his announcement speech reported by Geoff Pender of The Clarion-Ledger.

However, incumbent Republican Senators around the country are taking pains to align themselves with the president and Roger Wicker is no exception.

And as he has in past GOP primaries, such as the Alabama primary, Trump pledged his support to the incumbent senator, tweeting that Wicker is "a great supporter and incredible help in getting our massive Tax Cut Bill done and approved. Also big help on cutting regs. I am with him in his re-election all the way!"

McDaniel chalked Trump's endorsement of Wicker up to Trump being surrounded by the GOP establishment and "machine" and getting bad advice or having to make pragmatic decisions to get along with Congress.

"I was Trump before Trump," McDaniel said in a recent interview with the USA Today network’s Clarion - Ledger. On Wednesday he said, "I was fighting to drain the swamp ... before Donald Trump entered the scene. Someone told me the other day, I was the first Trump."

RealClear Politics’ Caitlin Huey - Burns reports Chris McDaniel’s supporters point to his challenge nearly four years ago to Sen. Thad Cochran, in which he forced the incumbent into a runoff. Cochran was considered the embodiment of the GOP establishment: a six-term senator who chaired the Appropriations Committee, a powerful post that symbolizes excess government spending for some conservatives.

McDaniel nearly ousted Cochran with his tea party-fueled primary challenge in 2014 that drew national attention. McDaniel unsuccessfully challenged his loss in court and never conceded the race, which he said was stolen from him by Democrats voting for Cochran in a Republican primary.

That primary became among the party's nastiest, involving nursing home spying and racial undertones. McDaniel eventually lost by about 8,000 votes. He and his supporters argued the election was stolen from them, asserting that Cochran had mobilized black voters to turn out in the open primary. McDaniel has since embraced the hashtag "Remember Mississippi," which a super PAC supporting him took it as its name; it has raised $1 million in contributions.

"McDaniel is much more aligned with Mississippi's values than Sen. Wicker has demonstrated, which is going to be a big advantage for McDaniel," said Tommy Barnett, the super PAC's treasurer told RealClear Politics’ Caitlin Huey - Burns. "The people of Mississippi deserve to have a strong voice in Washington, D.C., fighting for them, not someone who goes along with the Republican establishment every chance they get. It's going to be a fight and we look forward to fighting alongside Chris McDaniel."

McDaniel said that if elected one of his first moves would be to introduce a bill for term limits for Congress. He vowed to fight illegal immigration and amnesty and said he would not support DACA "under any circumstances."

"If Washington looks down on us it's because men like Roger Wicker failed us," McDaniel said. "Thank God for Donald Trump. He's turned Roger Wicker into a conservative for about the last three weeks," reported Pender.

McDaniel asked voters to give Trump the help he needs by having an actual conservative Senate.

"People wonder why we wait so long to announce for office," McDaniel said in his opening remarks as reported by Geoff Pender, adding the wait was because "we know it will tear our lives apart."

"We've lost our way as a people and the party, the party of Taft ... the Party of Reagan... has lost its way as well," McDaniel said in his announcement remarks. "The Tafts and Goldwaters are the heart of the GOP, not the McCains and Lindsey Grahams."

As one conservative wag quipped, “What’s he mad at Wicker for? Roger hasn’t done anything.”  And of course, Chris McDaniel is right about the Republican Party, particularly its Capitol Hill establishment, but that doesn’t mean the way ahead is easy for him.

"We're generally an unsettled group of folks these days in America. But not everybody is disgruntled with every incumbent," Mississippi Republican strategist Hayes Dent told RealClear Politics’ Caitlin Huey - Burns. "Universally, the disgruntled crowd is 100 percent with Trump. And Trump has already said he thinks Wicker has been doing a great job. So, what needle do you now need to thread if you're Chris McDaniel?"

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