Chris McDaniel has made his Senate race switch official.
The state senator has officially filed the paperwork to drop out the race against incumbent Senator Roger Wicker to instead campaign for Senator Thad Cochran’s seat, which will be decided in a special election in November. In a news release, McDaniel called on Wicker to stop running campaign ads against him.
“Given the fact that those ads have continued to run despite my announcement for the open seat, they are apparently part of a strategy to weaken my candidacy and are tantamount to an undeclared contribution. Naturally, Roger should focus on his actual primary opponent in his race,” he said.
Wicker stated that he had continued to run the ads because it was unclear when McDaniel was going to formally switch races. He noted that he would do so until McDaniel “took his name off the ballot.” Wicker went on to say that he has now instructed his ad agency to stop running the ads.
Citing his familiarity with the seat after challenging Cochran in 2014, McDaniel said this was the best path to the U.S. Senate in his public announcement.
“The open seat is the same seat we competed for in the 2014 Republican primary where our campaign received the most votes with 49.5 percent of the total. Cochran, as you well know won re-election after 40,000 Democrats voted in GOP run-off giving him a win by just over 6,000 votes.”
“Cochran’s departure from the Senate will trigger a special election to fill his unexpired term. I’ve heard from many of you who have been giving me a lot of encouragement to run for the open seat. I’ve listened and concluded that an open seat is the best path to win election to the United States Senate.”
Cindy Hyde-Smith was recently appointed by Governor Bryant to the fill the seat on a temporary basis, and McDaniel’s candidacy will now launch a Republican primary. On the Democratic side, Mike Espy is the only current candidate. After the appointment was made, McDaniel said he was “troubled” by it, and took a swing at Hyde-Smith’s former affiliation to the Democratic Party. Hyde-Smith has stated that she has no issues running on her record as a conservative.
“The good thing about being in the legislature; there’s a paper trail,” she said. “It’s a long paper trail, and they record every vote that we have. I have a record of Conservatism. I have a record of accomplishments and getting things done for you, and that’s exactly what I will do for you as your U.S. Senator.”
Governor Bryant agrees with his appointee and said that she is a true conservative. The Governor pledged his support for Hyde-Smith during both her time in the legislature and during her time at the Mississippi Department of Agriculture.
“She has the intestinal fortitude that can make things happen, that can stand and make difficult decisions, that can overcome the challenges of the day. She is a conservative Republican, elected twice to statewide office. She has served with honesty, distinction, and determination,” Governor Bryant said.
McDaniel’s supporters tried to sway the Governor to appoint him before he announced Hyde-Smith’s appointment, Governor Bryant was vocal about his disapproval of McDaniel’s decision to switch races.
“This opportunistic behavior is a sad commentary for a young man who once had great potential,” he said.
The Republican Primary will be held in on June 5th ahead of November’s special election.