Sen. Chris McDaniel soared to prominence battling establishment Republicans. Now he’s endorsing longtime foe Tate Reeves for governor

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Rogelio V. Solis, Associated PressU.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., right, and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves celebrate Cochran’s runoff election win over state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, in the primary runoff for the GOP nomination for senate, Tuesday, June 24, 2014 in Jackson, Miss.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel, the tea party firebrand long at odds with what he calls the “political establishment,” endorsed Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves over Bill Waller Jr. on Thursday in the Republican primary runoff for governor.
The endorsement from McDaniel, who lost U.S. Senate races in 2014 and 2018, comes less than two weeks before voters will decide on August 27 whether Reeves or Waller will be the Republican nominee for the November governor’s race.
McDaniel teased the scheduled endorsement on his Facebook page Wednesday evening, criticizing Waller’s positions on expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and increasing the state’s fuel tax.
“The clear dividing line is how (conservatives) view the power of government,” McDaniel wrote. “True conservatives share a desire for less government interference, less centralized authority, and more individual freedom. Hence, it is impossible to claim the mantle of conservatism while favoring Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion or a gas tax increase.”
McDaniel built his political career as the candidate who could take on the establishment. In 2014, his “political outsider” message resonated with Republican voters across the state as he nearly defeated longtime U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. In 2018, he continued that message in a special U.S. Senate race for the seat Cochran vacated upon retirement.
While serving in the state Senate since 2008, McDaniel has been a vocal critic of Republican leaders — regularly focusing his attacks on Reeves — for being controlled by interest groups and prominent political families. Reeves has endorsements from nearly every key interest group in the state and enjoys support from former Gov. Haley