Tea Party Leader Launches Campaign Against GOP Establishment

Republicans got a wake-up call regarding the perils of anti-incumbent primaries last year, when Alabama Sen. Luther Strange lost a runoff to Roy Moore, who in turn lost to Democrat Doug Jones – at one time an unthinkable outcome. But not everyone sees danger. Instead, another conservative insurgent from the Deep South, Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, is poised to run against a fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.

McDaniel is expected to announce a bid for the seat at a Wednesday rally in his hometown of Ellisville, Miss., the eve of the March 1 filing deadline. “Most conservatives feel that our party, the Republican Party, has lost its foundation,” McDaniel said during a Facebook Live video promoting the rally. “We’re looking for a fight, and I can’t wait to have you on my team again.”

But the challenge comes as Republican lawmakers and President Trump are getting along quite well. The party passed a long-awaited tax bill in December that GOP incumbents plan to use as a calling card in the midterms. Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser who had planned to back anti-incumbent campaigns around the country, is no longer in the president’s good graces, and therefore considered a pariah among Trump’s base. And Republican Senate candidates around the country are taking pains to align themselves with the president.

Challenging Wicker apparently wasn’t McDaniel’s first choice. There has been wide speculation about Cochran’s future in the Senate, given his ailments and missed votes. If he were to retire, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant would appoint a temporary stand-in, and the state would host an open race in November. McDaniel had been eyeing that pathway, but with no movement on Cochran’s part, and the March 1 deadline fast approaching, he has set his sights on Wicker.

Read more at RealClearPolitics.