This time around, McDaniel and other potential challengers are hoping to capitalize on heightened GOP voter dissatisfaction with the Republican-controlled Congress. An analysis of the Alabama race by the Senate Leadership Fund, a Mitch McConnell-aligned super PAC that spent heavily on behalf of Strange, explained that GOP leadership has now become the new “bogeyman” for angry voters, who largely see Congress’ lack of legislative accomplishments as an impediment to the Trump agenda.
That dynamic is encouraging to McDaniel, who might otherwise have trouble arguing that someone like Wicker isn’t sufficiently conservative. The election of Trump seemed to scramble conservative ideology and angst regarding the status quo. Even McDaniel, who campaigned three years ago as a “true conservative” and plans to do so again, acknowledges the president’s inconsistencies.
“The reason we thought the election of Trump was important was because he was an agent of change,” he told RCP. “Sometimes we disagree. But as long as he is pushing back against Washington, D.C., and against the establishment … what we’re really after here is to change Washington.”