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5 things to know about Chris McDaniel, GOP candidate for Senate in Mississippi

Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz has an ongoing series of 2018 midterm candidate interviews for his CRTV “The Conservative Conscience” podcast distributed by Westwood One. In this episode, Horowitz interviews Mississippi state Senator Chris McDaniel, the Republican candidate in a special election to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Conservatives may remember McDaniel from his 2014 primary challenge against Cochran. McDaniel won a larger share of the vote than Cochran in the first stage of the primary, but then lost to Cochran in the runoff after Democratic voters infiltrated Mississippi’s open primary to push the incumbent over the finish line. Four years later, McDaniel is back. Two weeks ago, he declared his candidacy to challenge Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., but switched races to run for the open seat after Cochran announced his retirement. Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant will appoint an interim senator who will serve until a special election for the remainder of Cochran’s term in November.

In this interview, McDaniel responds to criticism over his decision to switch races, explains his priorities for the United States Senate, and discusses what it takes to win as an insurgent conservative.

Listen:

Here are five key takeaways from the interview:

  1. McDaniel says that because he is the only Republican candidate in the race, Republicans have a unique opportunity to unify around his candidacy and avoid a situation like Alabama, where the Establishment went to war against Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., and ultimately lost a senate seat to the Democrats. “If we coalesce around my candidacy … then we avoid the bloodbath, we avoid intra-party conflict. And if we avoid it, the Democrat loses big-time in Mississippi,” he said.
  2. McDaniel responded to criticism from Mississippi’s governor that his switch to Cochran’s open seat was “opportunistic”:

    It’s funny about that. When I was his Jones County chairperson when he ran for lieutenant governor, he didn’t think I was opportunistic then. When I stood for him in the chamber and fought for his agenda with his top lieutenant in the chamber for four years, he didn’t think I was opportunistic then. When I filed a lawsuit against Obamacare to render it unconstitutional because our state attorney general did not, and he was my client in that lawsuit, he didn’t think I was opportunistic then. When I helped him get to governor, when I helped him campaign door-to-door [and] every other way, he didn’t think I was opportunistic then. You know when he thought it, Daniel? When he finally met with Mitch McConnell.

  3. Asked about his record fighting the Mississippi GOP establishment, McDaniel explained how “sometimes the best way to be an effective senator is to be on defense, and that is to kill their bills behind the scenes or to kill their bills with procedural issues.” McDaniel says he has worked to stop Republicans in Mississippi from increasing taxes and growing the size of government. “I’m just tired of Republicans campaigning like conservatives and then voting like Democrats, and people need to hear when they betray our principles,” he said.
  4. On government overreach: “It’s time to bring this Constitution back down to within its original boundaries. We can’t do that with lip service. We can’t do that with slick communications directors and press releases. It just takes fires. You gotta stand up, be heard, and hold Republicans accountable. If we hold our party accountable, we have the avenue by which to effectuate change.”
  5. Asked if there are any moral or ethical problems that would embarrass conservatives and sink McDaniel’s candidacy, he promised: “I can tell you unequivocally that no, there’s nothing out there that’s going to be so devastating as to cause that type of embarrassment.”

If McDaniel is elected to the Senate, he will serve through 2020. He told Horowitz that he wants the people of Mississippi to send him home if he wins the election and fails to keep his promises.

To learn more about McDaniel, visit his website.

Catch up with Daniel Horowitz's candidate interviews:

Editor's note: Daniel Horowitz worked at the Madison Project when the PAC endorsed Chris McDaniel for Senate in Mississippi in 2013.

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