GOP Senate races will test tea party’s staying power

The Mississippi U.S. Senate race has attracted a lot of national attention because state Sen. Chris McDaniel is the only tea party candidate who’s given much of a chance to become a viable Senate candidate from this first round of major primaries.

McDaniel created a stir last fall when he announced he was running and quickly gained support and sizable contributions from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Cochran retains a huge money advantage and the backing of every big name in the Mississippi GOP, including former Gov. Haley Barbour, who said McDaniel would “have his head handed to him.” The state tea party cried foul and later called on state Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef to resign after he said McDaniel “has some explaining to do” about reports that he’d planned to attend a Firearm Freedom Rally that included Pace Confederate Depot among its vendors.

Also causing trouble: Audiotapes of McDaniel’s radio show from 10 years ago surfaced with the candidate cracking jokes about gays, Hispanics and “boobs.” McDaniel ended up apologizing to the Libertarian Party over jokes he’d made at its expense.

Miami Herald
5/1/14