With Rally Set, Chris McDaniel Poised To Challenge Roger Wicker For Senate

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel casts his ballot at the George Harrison Building on June 24, 2014 in Ellisville, Mississippi.  Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is battling against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race.
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Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) has scheduled a Wednesday rally, sources close to the controversial lawmaker tell TPM, and is reportedly expected to run against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) after months of consideration.

“McDaniel will do a rally on Wednesday,” one source close to his campaign told TPM. And while that source and others in his orbit wouldn’t confirm or deny Politico’s report that he’s “expected to run,” and McDaniel didn’t reply to text messages, it seems highly probable that he’d be using his rally at the Jones County Junior College Wednesday afternoon to say challenge Wicker, rather than that he’s decided against it.

The controversial lawmaker staged a Tea Party revolt against Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) four years ago, nearly toppling the veteran lawmaker in the primary, a race he maintains was stolen from him. Ever since then he’s been biding his time for another run, and for months debated whether to challenge Wicker or wait and see if Cochran resigns from office due to ongoing health issues. He’d also mulled a run for lieutenant governor. But he’s run out of time to decide, with a campaign filing deadline just days away.

On Sunday night, McDaniel said in a Facebook post that he’d “have some important information to share about our political future” in a Monday night Facebook Live event. Sources say that will be to tout the rally.

Unlike Cochran, who was clearly showing his age that election and had a long history of pork-barrel legislation that opened him up to a right-wing challenge, Wicker is both a much sharper and energized campaigner (his team helped Cochran win that election and he ran the National Republican Senatorial Committee last election cycle) and one who hasn’t given McDaniel as many openings to attack him from the right.

Wicker didn’t wait for McDaniel’s announcement to take a subtle swipe at him, launching a campaign ad with one of McDaniel’s 2014 supporters endorsing him:

McDaniel is a highly controversial figure with a long history of charged statements on race, religion and gender. He made headlines last year for attacking the women’s march, claiming that “almost all liberal women are unhappy.” In older comments McDaniel blamed hip-hop for gun violence, attacked Muslims, threatened to stop paying taxes if Congress authorized slavery reparations and said one of the only useful Spanish words he knew was “mamacita,” an apparent joke about cat-calling Hispanic women.

Just weeks ago, as TPM reported, he joined the radio show of an ardent conspiracy theorist who believes the 9/11 attacks may have been carried out by the “World Zionist Organization.”