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Chris McDaniel slams Mississippi establishment for appointing former Democrat to U.S. Senate

Conservative Review

A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Mississippi has slammed his party's "establishment" after the governor of Mississippi appointed a former Democrat to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Gov. Phil Bryant announced the appointment of Mississippi agriculture and commerce commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to succeed Cochran, 80, as the interim U.S. senator until a special election is held in November. Hyde-Smith is a former Democrat who served in the state legislature before switching parties in 2010 to run for her current job.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is running as a Republican for Cochran's seat, said he was "troubled" by the appointment.

“Today, I was troubled to learn that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant dutifully followed the orders of the Washington establishment’s Mitch McConnell by appointing Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill the temporary vacancy created by Senator Thad Cochran’s retirement," said McDaniel in a press statement.

Noting her reputation as a "moderate Democrat" during her time in the legislature, McDaniel nevertheless said "the last thing the state of Mississippi needs in Washington is another moderate Democrat." Several Republican strategists worried that Hyde-Smith would be a weak choice to fill Cochran's seat precisely because should she run in 2018, her history as a Democrat opens her up to criticism from the Right in deep red Mississippi.

That is exactly the strategy McDaniel is adopting.

McDaniel also criticized the Mississippi "establishment" for failing to get behind his candidacy and setting the stage for a contentious election.

"The establishment should have learned their lesson in Alabama," McDaniel said. "By spending millions of dollars against conservative Mo Brooks, they ended up losing the seat to a Democrat. Now, they are going to appoint one in Mississippi. Instead of unifying around my candidacy, and beating the Democrats, the establishment is once again going to waste millions of dollars of donors’ money over what should have been a safe Republican seat in Mississippi."

McDaniel is not the only one criticizing Hyde-Smith's appointment. The White House is reportedly opposed to Hyde-Smith's appointment, and President Trump is said to have no plans to campaign for her or endorse her. According to Politico, polling conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee shows Hyde-Smith trailing both McDaniel and a prospective Democratic candidate.

The McDaniel campaign has published an open letter urging President Trump to refrain from endorsing Hyde-Smith.

"Our concern is that you are not being well-served by the political advice you may be getting from leadership in Congress," a group of Mississippi GOP officials backing McDaniel.

"We, the undersigned, oppose this nomination and urge you not to lend your endorsement to her campaign."

There is no primary for the special election. If no candidate wins an outright majority in November, a runoff election will be held between the top two vote-getters in the race.

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