by Alan Lange
This week will settle the speculation about the qualifying for the US Senate seat currently occupied by incumbent Republican Senator Roger Wicker.
Chris McDaniel, who has spent the better part of 18 months defiantly labeling Roger Wicker as a “swamp” creature and threatening that both MS Senators will be challenged by Bannon disciples n the upcoming cycle, told the AP that he would “get into a dark place and pray” about whether to run this year.
It still is a bit of a shocker that McDaniel has spent 18 months toting water for Steve Bannon by attacking President Trump and Vice President Pence’s chosen candidate (Wicker) and still within a week of the deadline looks absolutely stricken with indecision about the politics of whether or not to run against the man he’s publicly been calling out. He has been stringing out his decision since October, and even with reportedly $2 million in a PAC does not seem convinced about the right path.
Then he announced Friday night that he will indeed be making an announcement . . . of his announcement . . . at 6:00 p.m. on Monday.
I still remain on record (as I have since March 2017) that McDaniel will not run against Wicker. If I’m wrong, Jackson New Media, Inc. (parent company of Y’all Politics) is on the hook for a $1,000 to the non profit of McDaniel’s choice. If he does decide to jump in against Wicker last minute, McDaniel will have essentially wasted the last four months where he could have been out putting a campaign ground game together. During that time, the unthinkable Roy Moore scenario happened which caused Republicans to lose a Senate seat in next door Alabama. He’s already lost the support of a lot of folks that were on his team last time. The only logic I can muster is that he gets out of the way on Wicker (maybe in time for another last minute challenger?) and holds out hopes for more appealing political options. But we will know shortly.
Later Friday night, Bobby Harrison of the Daily Journal penned an article quoting Rep. Steve Holland (D) saying that (1) Senator Thad Cochran was definitively going to retire soon after 3/1 and that (2) House Speaker Philip Gunn had been selected as his replacement. Of course, no one in Cochran’s immediate orbit has said anything of the sort, and Gov. Phil Bryant has repeatedly tamped down any “what ifs” in terms of a replacement if Cochran does not finish his term.
No doubt, Harrison and Holland are a pretty questionable duo to be making definitive speculations about the decision mechanics of what are essentially internal Republican party workings. Harrison got an article out of it. Holland may be engaging in some chaos theory in that the mere speculation about Gunn could gum up the works of the last month of proceedings in the Mississippi Legislature. Harrison and Holland would be down near the bottom of the list of those getting advance notice on what’s actually going to happen in Republican circles. Again, not to say the Gunn scenario is completely implausible, but it’s not much more than a rumor at this point.
No doubt, if Cochran for whatever reason decided to step down, Gunn would be a formidable pick. But there are a bunch of other names in the rumor mill including LG Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Auditor Stacey Pickering and Ag Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to name a few. If an early exit for Cochran were to come to pass, whomever Bryant picked to replace him would have his total support. Bryant’s political legacy would be on the line. President Trump’s support of that candidate would also be highly likely pitting McDaniel (if he opted to run for Cochran’s seat, whenever it became open) against Bryant/Trump’s chosen candidate.
But keep one thing in mind. All Cochran now has to do is stay a member of the US Senate and next year, he will be Senate Pro Tempore. That is a huge deal both to Cochran personally and for the state of Mississippi. That would put him third in line to the Presidency. Whether or not he will stay on till then is anyone’s guess, but there’s certainly plenty of motivation for him to stay if he’s able.
There are a ton of rumors floating around, but this Thursday at 5:00 p.m., some of those rumors will be put to rest as the field for the US Senate election regularly scheduled for 2018 comes into focus.
As I’ve said on a couple of occasions, 2018, 2019 and 2020 will likely be the three most meaningful political years in Mississippi in half a century. Two US Senate seats, a statewide election with several open seats and redistricting are all on the table. And that’s just the drama we know about. Stay tuned to the Y’all Politics closely in the coming weeks for analysis and news. Make sure and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Take the conversation to social media now and let us know what you think will happen.