President Trump endorsed recently appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) on Thursday, giving her a big boost as she looks to ward off Tea Party hardliner Chris McDaniel (R) this fall.
The endorsement, in a pair of tweets, comes after Trump had resisted backing her, frustrated that Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) had refused to appoint himself to the seat.
…Cindy has voted for our Agenda in the Senate 100% of the time and has my complete and total Endorsement. We need Cindy to win in Mississippi!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2018
Hyde-Smith was already the front-runner in an all-party primary against McDaniel and former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D). But McDaniel nearly toppled then-Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a 2014 primary, and while his particular brand of Tea Party hardline views have fallen a bit by the wayside in the Trump era and his sore loser attitude towards 2014 has turned off some former supporters, Hyde-Smith’s recent history as a Democrat gives him a real opening to eploit in the race.
Republicans have fretted that if McDaniel came out ahead of Hyde-Smith in the November election it could put the seat in jeopardy.
Trump has had a strong endorsement record in GOP primaries, though his pick for Wyoming governor fell far short earlier this week. And the last time he endorsed in a primary in the Deep South against a local hardliner with conservative appeal, he lost — and the GOP blew a winnable race as nominee Roy Moore coughed away a Senate seat.