Senator Chris McDaniel: No Joining Hands Across the Aisle

McDaniel: No Joining Hands Across the Aisle

By Jimmie E. Gates, Clarion Ledger, May 31, 2014

McDaniel was marked as a GOP up-and-comer, a potential candidate for higher office, by Mississippi politicos nearly as soon as he took office as a state senator.

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Chris McDaniel grew up in the small city of Ellisville, in the southeastern part of the state, as an only child with a passion for baseball and basketball.

“Just a normal boy,” Charlotte McDaniel of Ellisville said of her son, a two-term state senator who is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in Tuesday’s GOP primary. “He was a good Christian boy even back then.”

Charlotte McDaniel, who retired from Jones County Junior College in 1995, said her son didn’t seek or want a lot of things growing up. “Chris didn’t sit in front of the television a lot or play video games. He liked being outside playing sports. …We never had a problem with him.”

Chris McDaniel is extremely intelligent but not someone who flaunts his intelligence, his mother said.

Today, Charlotte McDaniel, living in the same home in Ellisville where she and late husband Carlos raised Chris, describes her son as a “fine, fine statesman.”

McDaniel, 42, says he first became interested in politics through his father’s support of President Ronald Reagan and was inspired by Reagan to become a Republican at age 13.

McDaniel was marked as a GOP up-and-comer, a potential candidate for higher office, by Mississippi politicos nearly as soon as he took office as a state senator.

In October at a rally of more than 300 in his hometown of Ellisville, McDaniel announced he was running for Cochran’s Senate seat.

McDaniel said he respects Cochran but it’s time for a change.

“The liberals always win,” McDaniel said. “That’s not compromise. That’s called surrender. … Where were our senators? Sen. Cochran — I respect him. I grew up admiring him. You cannot be a young person in Mississippi like me and not look at the man and in some instances want to emulate him. He’s all I’ve ever known. He’s been up there as long as I’ve been alive, and that is a considerable length of time.”

With several tea party candidates losing to established Republican candidates across the country in recent U.S. Senate contests, McDaniel appears to be a great hope of the tea party this year to wrestle away a Senate seat from an establishment Republican. The race between Cochran and McDaniel has been called the nastiest in the country by some national news organizations.

Crisscrossing the state on the campaign trail, McDaniel extols his conservative values of limited government, free enterprise, civic participation, reduced tax rates, a strong national defense and anti-Obamacare.

Diann Walters of Ellisville, a neighbor of McDaniel’s parents for 30 years, said that with Chris McDaniel, “what you see is what you get every day.”

“He is well-mannered; whenever I see him, he always says, ‘yes, ma’am’ and ‘no, ma’am,’ ” said Walters, who was one of McDaniel’s teachers in high school.

Asked what kind of student McDaniel was, Walters said, “He was an A-plus student.”

Walters said the younger McDaniel idolized his father, a standout basketball player at Jones County Community College from 1960-62 and later a popular instructor from 1967-99. He died in an auto accident in 1999.

The younger McDaniel also played basketball in college.

Walters said she remembers McDaniel always playing ball in his backyard with neighborhood children growing up. Now that McDaniel is an adult, she says, he is a great father to his children. McDaniel and wife Jill, an educator, have two young sons.

After high school, McDaniel attended and graduated from Jones County Junior College. He then graduated from William Carey College and the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Admitted to practice law in 1997, McDaniel clerked for two years for U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering before becoming a member of the law firm of Hortman, Harlow, Bassi, Robinson & McDaniel. He is still a partner in the firm.

McDaniel has been a state senator since 2008. Fellow state Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, who is best friends with McDaniel, describes his colleague as a professional mentor and one of the best legislators in the state.

“He is a good family man, and he’s competitive,” Watson said of McDaniel. “He is a fighter.”

McDaniel and Watson formed the 10-member Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition. McDaniel serves as chairman.

McDaniel vows to bring change and to fight if elected to the U.S. Senate. He makes no bones that he’s not interested in bipartisan negotiations or compromise or in bringing home the bacon to Mississippi.

“Senators (Ted) Cruz and (Mike) Lee, they’re not going up there to join hands across the aisle,” McDaniel said. “… Every state in the union is to a certain extent addicted to federal spending. And that means every state is going to have to make sacrifices to save this union.”

Clarion-Ledger Political Editor Geoff Pender contributed to this report.

To contact Jimmie E. Gates, call (601) 961-7212 or jgates@jackson.gannett.com. Follow @jgatesnews on Twitter.

About Chris McDaniel

• Age: 42

• Hometown: Ellisville

• Education: Jones County Junior College, William Carey College, University of Mississippi School of Law

• Experience: Clerk, U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering; private law practice; state senator since 2008.

ELECTION DAY

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The League of Women Voters of the Jackson Area will operate a hotline during polling hours to answer questions and concerns regarding the primary, including help in finding voting locations and providing information about the voting process, requirements for voter ID and identifying what is on the ballot.

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Comments

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