In the special election contest to replace the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee, Mississippi Republicans are hoping to avoid the nasty, divisive GOP primary that roiled the 2014 Senate race….
…“For a congressional race, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Mississippi Republican strategist Austin Barbour, nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. “Maybe it’s happened before at some local race or mayoral race, but for a House seat, this is just a crazy number of people.”
So far, 12 Republicans have officially entered the race to replace Nunnelee, who died of cancer in February. In addition to the confirmed candidates, another half-dozen are rumored to be considering entering the race before the qualifying deadline on Friday….
…Republicans want to avoid a repeat of the nastiest and most divisive contest of 2014, in which incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran narrowly defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party favorite, in a primary marred by legal challenges, racial accusations, spousal spying and even a suicide. McDaniel famously refused to concede to Cochran and blamed crossover Democratic voting for the runoff upset.
Now, the Tea Party favorite might try to wield his influence in the special election. Earlier this year, McDaniel launched the United Conservatives Fund (UCF), a super-PAC, to aid social and fiscal conservatives in the Magnolia State.
The group has been interviewing candidates and is in the process of deciding whether it will back a candidate.
“We want to find a principled conservative champion who will fight for conservative beliefs,” McDaniel told The Hill.
But while the huge group of contenders might seem primed for a bruising repeat of 2014, Republicans in the state seem at peace, believing that a candidate with cross-party appeal and solid conservative bona fides will emerge from the field of accomplished public officials and businessmen and women in the race.