The Tea Party Express came to Jackson Nov. 5 to endorse Chris McDaniel to defeat U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Photo by Trip Burns.
JACKSON The California-based Tea Party Express came to the Mississippi Capitol this morning to announce that it is endorsing state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican from Jones County, to replace long-time Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in the U.S. Senate.
Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, compared McDaniel favorably to congressional Tea Party darlings Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah. McDaniel will empower the Tea Party to break up the “good old boy network” of entrenched Republicans such as Cochran, thus “sanitizing the U.S. government,” Kremer said.
McDaniel, chairman of the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition, is a “true constitutional conservative,” Kremer added. “… He believes in state’s rights.”
The endorsement underscores a growing rift between Republican moderates and the far-right wing of the GOP, represented by the Tea Party. The right-wing of the party sees any negotiation or diplomacy as a negative, and they continue to push for drawing hard lines beyond which they refuse to go. Those hard lines were evident in the recent 16-day partial federal government shutdown, which cost the U.S. economy $24 billion and came dangerously close to the United States defaulting on debts it had already incurred.
Republican stalwarts such as strategist Karl Rove do not see the Tea Party’s tactics—which often take the form of GOP party infighting instead of mounting campaigns against Democrats—as a winning strategy. Nevertheless, the Tea Party faithful seem to see themselves as the only true representatives of the American people.
“We believe if you want to effect change you have to change the players,” Kremer said.
She confirmed that her organization’s fight was not against Democrats so much as it was with old-guard Republicans such as Cochran, who has represented Mississippi since 1978. “They waved the white flag of surrender,” to reopen the federal government instead of defunding the Affordable Care Act, Kremer said. “It’s time for (Cochran) to retire.”
Cochran has yet to announce his intentions to run in 2014, fueling speculation that the 75-year-old senior senator will retire at the completion of his current term.
For his part, McDaniel conjured the ghost of former President Ronald Reagan, whom McDaniel said he first encountered when he was 14, setting the stage for his own political career.
“What’s wrong with drawing a line in the sand and saying, ‘Enough,’” McDaniels asked rhetorically during his brief statement. The federal government is doing too much, he added, and America is begging for real leadership.
“Adults have to enter the room to salvage the government,” McDaniels said, reversing the meme moderate Republicans have used to distinguish themselves from young Tea Party extremists.
McDaniels is the first endorsement of the Tea Party Express for the 2014 mid-term congressional elections.