Sen. Thad Cochran’s decision to run for re-election has garnered national attention because he represents the latest in a line of longtime, traditional Republican lawmakers facing a primary challenger backed by tea party interests.
Most of those races have not ended well for the incumbents, but Cochran supporters feel this time will be different. In fact, they are betting on just that. As much as they want Cochran to return to Washington because of his seniority and what it means for Mississippi, they also want his victory to send a message to the far-right fringe they feel is threatening the livelihood of the Republican Party.
One veteran Republican elected official told me over the weekend, “This race has national implications. Thad doesn’t need to just win; he needs to win big.”
There is little love lost between traditional Republicans in this state and the emerging tea party wing. The biggest knock against them is that the only thing they know how to talk about is what they’re against. Outside of liberty — and who doesn’t want to preserve the nation’s liberty — they put forward no real ideas, traditional Republicans argue.
Enter Cochran and his GOP primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville.