Why quantity exceeds quality among Senate Republican primary challengers

“Almost without exception Senators heeded the lessons from the last two cycles and have taken nothing for granted. They built solid campaign war chests, assembled top-flight campaign teams, and are criss-crossing their states,” said Brian Walsh, a former National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman.

The challenger who appears to have the best chance right now is Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator running against Sen. Thad Cochran. McDaniel has won the support of the Club For Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, and he’s proven that he can raise money. Cochran was rated the 34th most conservative senator in 2013, according to National Journal’s vote ratings, making him one of the more moderate members of the GOP Conference.

McDaniel said technological advances have allowed challengers to compete more heavily with long-established incumbents.

“People are beginning to peer behind the veil for the first time in an awful long time,” said McDaniel. “They’re scared and their anxious, so they’ve begun to focus on these votes. And they have the ability now to do it with the Internet and social media, whereas 10 years ago, many people didn’t have that opportunity.”

But McDaniel he appears the be the exception to the rule this cycle. And even as he’s impressed conservative activists early, he far from a shoo-in to win.

WAPO
2/12/14