The 10 must-watch candidates of 2018

8. Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R)
Establishment Republicans have long said Sen. Thad Cochran’s victory over McDaniel in Mississippi’s 2014 Republican Senate primary was a shot in the arm ahead of an election that ended with them picking up nine seats and grabbing control of the chamber. McDaniel, a firebrand conservative, is now aiming to take out Sen. Roger Wicker in the state’s June primary, this time with former White House adviser Steve Bannon’s backing. The political environment is even worse for the GOP establishment than it was in 2014, and the Mitch McConnell-led cavalry just failed to save appointed Sen. Luther Strange in neighboring Alabama.

Still, there are reasons for establishment Republicans to be optimistic. Public polling has given Wicker a lead to start the race. And McDaniel’s past criticisms of Trump can be weaponized, potentially allowing Republicans to vaporize him the way they demolished Rep. Mo Brooks in Alabama.