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MS-Sen: McDaniel's campaign struggling to replicate 2014 financial support

State Sen. Chris McDaniel is struggling to raise money as effectively as he did when he ran for Senate unsuccessfully in 2014. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

State Sen. Chris McDaniel's fundraising numbers in the Mississippi Senate race are a far cry from those generated by his exciting upset bid in the 2014 Republican primary against former Sen. Thad Cochran.

Although McDaniel fell just short of defeating Cochran in the primary that year, his campaign generated significantly more money than his 2018 bid is, showing that interest from conservative groups just isn't there this time around.

How big is the difference?

From the Clarion Ledger:

"What a difference four years makes for the McDaniel campaign. In the 2014 GOP primary with Cochran, McDaniel raised $3.24 million in traditional campaign contributions and attracted another $5.7 million from outside groups either supporting ($3.56 million) or opposing ($2.17 million) his campaign for a total spend of some $8.94 million."

There is much less interest in McDaniel in 2018. Second quarter finance reports show that McDaniel's campaign has $156,000 cash on hand, which includes a $55,000 personal loan McDaniel made to the campaign. He raised $173,000 in the second quarter.

What about the other candidates?

Incumbent Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who holds the seat by way of Gov. Phil Bryant's appointment after Cochran's resignation, leads the way, having raised $1.6 million in the second quarter of 2018 and having $1.4 million in cash in the bank.

Democrat Mike Espy, former Clinton administration agriculture secretary, has $281,000 in cash on hand, including $111,000 from a personal loan.

What happened to the money?

In 2014, McDaniel got millions in contributions from conservative groups such as Freedom Works and Club for Growth. Those two organizations alone combined to give $1.12 million in support of McDaniel, and $2.53 million in opposition of Cochran.

That money hasn't come through this election cycle, as there is much less anti-establishment energy surrounding this race, which Hyde-Smith, the establishment favorite, is currently leading in the polls.

Hope for a turnaround?

While McDaniel is already a longshot in the race, and doesn't have much chance of catching up financially, a couple of things could happen to boost his campaign, according to the Washington Examiner.

First, McDaniel could benefit from an endorsement by President Donald Trump. However, McDaniel was a Sen. Ted Cruz supporter in the 2016 Republican primary, and that opposition makes an endorsement unlikely.

Second, if wealthy GOP donors with a history of supporting McDaniel come through big, the campaign could stay afloat. David Drucker of the Washington Examiner writes:

"But influential conservative donors like Robert Mercer and Richard Uihlein have written big checks to [The McDaniel super PAC] over the past year, and could do so again.

Y'all Politics, a blog that covers Mississippi politics, examined the McDaniel campaign's second quarter FEC report and noted that 'various members of the Mercer and Uihlein families, which have given substantial money to the PAC, maxed out to McDaniel's campaign this quarter."

The Mississippi special Senate election will take place Nov. 6, with a runoff to be held Nov. 27 if no candidate earns a majority.

One last thing…
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