Shared opposition to Medicaid expansion in the state spurred Mississippi Sen. Chris McDaniel on Thursday to endorse Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, whose legislative tactics he has long criticized, for the Republican Party runoff for governor.
With Reeves standing nearby for the Jones County press conference, McDaniel said he knew he had plenty of reasons to oppose Reeves,
“No one has more reasons to be displeased with Tate Reeves than I do,” he said, reading from a prepared statement he gave to the press. “Mainly because of differences in our personalities, we have publicly disagreed for years. Consequently, I have paid a heavy political price. He can be stubborn and hardheaded. But then again, so can I.”
After McDaniel challenged incumbent GOP U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in a vicious 2014 primary that McDaniel ultimately lost, Reeves, who serves as the president of the Senate, began blocking McDaniel’s legislation. That one of the state senator’s long-standing gripes.
‘Principle’ Over ‘Political Discomfort’
Elections, though, have “never been about personalities” for him, McDaniel said on Thursday. Instead, it is about shared beliefs.
“I stand on principle even when it causes me significant political discomfort,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel, like Reeves, has long opposed Medicaid expansion, a key component of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or ACA. In 2011, McDaniel joined forces with then-Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant to bring a lawsuit arguing that the ACA was unconstitutional.
That lawsuit failed, but a separate one other Republicans filed nationwide made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court upheld the bulk of the ACA, but struck down a provision requiring states to expand Medicaid access to more low-income working families, giving states discretion to decide whether to accept federal funds to expand the program.
Mississippi Republicans, including Reeves and current Gov. Phil Bryant, rejected expansion, even though the federal government