JACKSON, Miss. — One Senate seat here may not be enough for Steve Bannon.
If the former White House strategist gets his way, Mississippi’s two long-serving establishment Republican senators won’t be in office by the start of the next Congress.
In regular phone calls over the past several months, Bannon has urged state Sen. Chris McDaniel to challenge Sen. Roger Wicker in a primary next year, and he also wants Gov. Phil Bryant to send himself to Washington if Sen. Thad Cochran, who is 79 and in poor health, retires before his term ends in 2020, according to people familiar with Bannon’s plans….
…The governor, however, doesn’t want to name either McDaniel or himself, according to a person close to him.
His short list would likely include Reeves, the lieutenant governor, a political rival whose appeal is in his ability to defend the seat in a special election, and Rep. Gregg Harper, who is well-liked but untested at the statewide level. Either would surely face a challenge from the Tea Party ranks. But Bryant could also tap state Sen. Michael Watson, a Tea Party favorite and close McDaniel ally, who might scare off establishment challengers.