The Madison Project, a group backing Tea Party-aligned candidates in the 2014 Republican primaries, next week will turn up the heat on Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who has yet to say whether he’ll run again next year or retire after six terms.
In a state-wide radio ad that will run for five weeks beginning Monday, the group is touting the conservative bona fides of Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator who entered the race against Cochran on Oct. 17. McDaniel has support from other Tea Party-aligned groups like the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
“The liberals in Washington are out of control,” the ad says, pointing to policies the group says hurt the U.S. economy and Mississippi voters, including Obamacare, expanded federal spending and deficits, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “There is one man who has a record for fighting for Mississippi’s conservative values: State Senator Chris McDaniel.”
McDaniel opposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and as a state legislator has been a strong opponent of gun control measures and an advocate for the rights of private property owners.
The ad doesn’t once mention Cochran, but he’s high in the minds of top strategists of the group, which is run by run by former Republican Rep. Jim Ryun of Kansas.
Cochran, the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee and a senior appropriator, had an 88 percent rating with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2012. He has far lower ratings with more right-leaning groups, including a 53 percent rating with the National Taxpayers Union and a 52 percent rating from the American Conservative Union.
“It doesn’t look like he’s raising money, it doesn’t look like he’s trying to campaign,” Daniel Horowitz, the Madison Group’s policy director, said in an interview today. “A lot of people have realized that after 35 years it’s time for a fresh change.”
He describes McDaniel, who could later be joined by other Republicans in the party primary race, as a “brilliant Constitutionalist” and the “Jim DeMint of the state Senate,” referring to the former South Carolina senator who founded the Senate Conservatives Fund and who now leads the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.
Nine months into this election cycle, Cochran has reported just $341,616 in new contributions into his campaign war chest, according to his Sept. 30 filing with the Federal Election Commission. He has $803,907 cash on hand in his campaign account.