Roll Call reports:
Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Wednesday he will switch from challenging GOP Sen. Roger Wicker in a primary to running in the November special election for resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat.
“By announcing early, we are asking Mississippi Republicans to unite around my candidacy and avoid another contentious contest among GOP members that would only improve the Democrats’ chances of winning the open seat,” McDaniel said in a statement, alluding to Republicans’ loss in an Alabama special election late last year.
Cochran announced his resignation from the Senate earlier this month, which will take effect April 1. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint a placeholder to fill the seat until the November special election when candidates from all parties will run together. The top two candidates will then advance to a runoff if no one clears 50 percent of the vote.
From my recent report on McDaniel…..
Surely you remember the grotesque attack on Cochran committed by McDaniel supporters back in 2014:
News broke in the Clarion Ledger on May 17, 2014, that a 28-year-old aspiring political blogger had been arrested for sneaking into the nursing home where Cochran’s now-late wife, Rose, had lived since 2000. She was suffering from progressive dementia and bedridden.
McDaniel supporter Clayton “Constitutional” Kelly of Pearl, egged by others, sneaked into the nursing home on Easter Sunday and photographed Rose, then used the image in an online political hit piece against Cochran, insinuating he was having an affair with a staffer and that the two were traveling the world while his wife languished. (Cochran married the staffer in question, Kay Webber, on May 23, 2015, five months after Rose died on Dec. 12, 2014.)
Kelly was ordered by co-conspirators to quickly pull the video down, but Cochran’s campaign had already captured it. After an ensuing investigation, charges were brought against Kelly and three other McDaniel supporters — Richard Sager, a Laurel teacher and coach; John Mary of Hattiesburg, a tea party activist and former radio show host; and respected attorney and state Republican tea party leader Mark Mayfield.
Mayfield, whose own mother was in the same dementia unit with Rose Cochran, killed himself shortly after his arrest. The nursing home incident cost McDaniel the election.
According to reports at the time, Cochran’s adult children had accepted their father’s affair because he was unwilling to divorce his incapacitated wife. Cochran’s own cognitive issues are believed to have spurred his retirement announcement.