Pender: McDaniel ‘would prefer federal position’

Senator Chris McDaniel sat down with the Editorial Board at the Clarion Ledger today and here is an article by Geoff Pender about that meeting:

State Sen. Chris McDaniel says he hasn’t ruled out a run for lieutenant governor or some other state office, but his first preference would be a federal office, such as the one now held by U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo.

“If I had to rank, I think frankly I would prefer a federal position, only because I think at this stage more can be done in that regard,” McDaniel, R-Ellisville, said Wednesday. “I think a close second to that is my present position. I’m happy there … Naturally, there is no federal race this year, so that might tell you where my leaning is.”

McDaniel, who made national waves with his tea-party fueled, near-miss run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran last year, on Wednesday met with The Clarion-Ledger. He discussed his political future and ideology, problems he’s sees with the Republican Party in Mississippi and nationally, the United Conservatives Fund state PAC he’s founded, his 2014 Senate race and regrets – he admits he has a few. But challenging his loss to Cochran in court isn’t one of them.

Supporters have been pushing McDaniel to challenge incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the GOP primary this year. The deadline to qualify for state races is Feb. 27.

“I have not decided what I’m going to do,” McDaniel said. “I’ve got nine days and … that’s a lot of time … Nothing’s off the table except governor.”

He was critical of Reeves, who controls the state Senate where McDaniel now serves, some say with a heavy hand. McDaniel called Reeves “a creature of the rules” using rules, procedure and political maneuvering to stifle senators such as McDaniel.

“The people of this state do not control the Senate,” McDaniel said. “One person, Tate Reeves, does … That goes against my Jeffersonian principles.”

McDaniel is founder of the state Senate Conservative Coalition, a group of 10 lawmakers often at odds with Reeves and the GOP majority in the Senate.

“No one is out to get Tate Reeves,” McDaniel said. “I don’t dislike Tate Reeves. He dislikes us. I would put my hand out to him any day. But I want a Senate run by the people of the state, not by one person.”

While he sounded more interested in a congressional run, McDaniel said he’s not intimidated by Reeves’ hefty campaign war chest of $2.35 million and, “I’m not in fear of a fight, either.”

McDaniel lives in the Fourth Congressional District, where Palazzo is up for re-election next year. McDaniel said the fellow Republican is a longtime friend of his, but “I don’t understand the idea that he would go up there and not fight every day.”

McDaniel described himself as a “Jeffersonian,” and at turns a “Taft,” “Goldwater” and “Reagan” Republican. He was critical of most of the state’s GOP leadership and establishment, with the exception of Gov. Phil Bryant. When asked if he supported Bryant for re-election, he said, “I suppose so.”

“He has strong conservative instincts,” McDaniel said. “… I like him … He’s a good man. He means well … I just like Phil. I wish him the best.”

McDaniel joked that after last year’s bitter Senate primary, he’s considering opening “a beer and bait shop in the Pacific.” He brought a stuffed ‘possum to Wednesday’s meeting, in honor of Clarion-Ledger cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, who has frequently drawn caricatures of McDaniel with a ‘possum.

More comments from McDaniel on Wednesday:

  • “God had a plan and for whatever reason he did not see me (in the U.S. Senate seat) … I like the race we ran. I regret greatly that Cochran would not debate me. More than anything in my life I wanted to debate Thad Cochran … I regret the issues became side issues.” – on any regrets he has about last year’s Senate race.
  • “Yes, sir. Absolutely. A politician should never become so self interested as to ignore what he perceives as corruption or wrongdoing.” – on whether in retrospect he should have challenged his loss to Cochran in court.
  • “As long as (former Gov.) Haley Barbour’s involved – they have one speed, assassination, so probably so.” – whether a state office GOP primary would be a battle if he runs.
  • “We are not adversarial to the (Republican) Party. We appreciate the party. But it needs to stand for something, not for personalities or corporatism of cronyism.”
  • “There’s a fundamental flaw in their understanding of what it means to be a conservative.” – on his fellow Republican senators who voted for a bill to require insurance companies to cover autism treatments.
  • “Mississippi has a long tradition of electing nice people (to Congress). We need fighters. I’m not seeing that from our delegation.”


  1. John Allen says:

    Take on Wicker, Chris!

  2. Judging by its portrayal in the article, this is a much better and much more statesmanlike interview than what was coming from Chris McDaniel’s camp after the Senate primary elections last year. Chris McDaniel bringing the stuffed possum to the interview was a good, humorous touch. Declaring he’s not adversarial to the Republican Party, and expressing support for Governor Bryant (who has always tried to paint himself a friend of the Tea Party) were both wise moves. The sad thing is–If Chris McDaniel had behaved like this during the election challenge last year, people like me would have been so much more inclined to support him should he decide to run this year. Lately, I’ve found myself generally an establishment voter, but, though perhaps I misjudge Tate Reeves, I’m unsure that I trust our current lieutenant governor and I’m unhappy with his too-calculated leadership. After last year though, I’m dissatisfied with Chris McDaniel too, so I hesitate to commit to voting either way should a Reeves-McDaniel match arise. This indecision on my part should be a good example of why it’s important not to paint Cochran voters generally as idiotic, Democratic liberals, as has been done. The Tea Party may have burned some bridges among voters like myself that will be difficult to repair. That said, Chris McDaniel is still a strong force in politics and could possibly beat Reeves. In my opinion however, I think he would have a better chance against Palazzo.

  3. William Smith says:

    Several comments:

    1, I am all for the Senator opening the beer and bait shop in the Pacific.

    2. If he does not open the beer and bait shop somewhere in the Pacific, I would be happy for him to challenge Tate Reeves. This would set up a good “test the waters” statewide race.. He would lose, and then the age of MdDanielism in MS would be over.

    3. He is not much of a Republican. He doesn’t approve Tate Reeves, the majority of the state Senate, the state Party officials, the Republican leadership in Congress, the national Party officials, Rep Palazzo, most the the Rep members of the US House and Senate. His endorsement of Gov Bryant is tepid at best. I think this would be an excellent time for him to use hsi PAC to start a 3rd Party in MS, and then, after it is successful, l take it national.

    4. What does it mean for “the people” to run the Senate. Senates are small bodies, meant to be highly deliberative, and conservative of action. They like all representative bodies require leadership. Leadership determines how the place is mangaged. I fear what Sen McDaniel means by “the people” running the Senate is that the Senate does what he, the true representative of the people wants.

    5. Does the Senator have any idea of the real principles, beliefs, and records of Jefferson, Taft, Gioldwater, and Reagan? To be a Jeffersonian (Democrat) who is simultaneously a Taft Republican, a Goldwater Republican, and a Reagan Republican is to be a man having a perpetual argument with himself. It would seem tthat they only way to reconcile these things is that he finds using these names useful to himself while hoping that most people will not think about the contradictions involved.

    6. We could not have expected that he could get through the interview without beating on Haley Barbour, perhaps our most successful modern Governor and the man responsible for much Republican success both in MS and in the country.

    7. Rep Senators who voted to mandate insurance coverage (there are already mandates in health and insurance coverage in MS) to treatment of autistic children have “a fundamental flaw in their understanding of what it means to be conservative = do not vote as Sen. McDaniel thinks they ought.

    8. MS needs to elect fighters to go to Washington. Yes, indeed.
    Fighters like Bilbo not statesmen like Stennis. Yes, MS needs Congressmen and Senators who can go to Washington, alienate Party leadeship, stick their chins every chance, make speeches, stake out postions, go adversarial accuse conservatives of not being conservatives, and get nothing done for MS and the nation.

    I am hereby offerning $10 to back that beer and bait shop. If all

    • Mr. Smith makes sense. I might add, that it is possible that The Anointed One is more like Reagan than we have given him credit. Next to Senator Cruz, can you imagine a more miserable and hamstrung individual serving as a legislator than RWR? With his personality and ego, the only place Reagan could ever have fit effectively was in the executive branch. But by his own words, Chris wants to be a dysfunctional “fighting” legislator like his mentor–Ted Cruz.

  4. William Smith says:

    What a revolting development! 7 of 10 membrers of Conservative Caucus in MS Senate endorse Reeves.

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