JACKSON, Miss.—Mississippi Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, joined the race for Mississippi lieutenant governor this morning after signing qualifying papers at the Mississippi Republican Party headquarters in Jackson.
The Jones County senator will be vying for the party’s ticket in a contest against incumbent Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and two others challengers: Shane Quick and Tiffany Longino.
During his announcement speech, McDaniel accused Hosemann of not being conservative enough. “He has chosen a different path that leads our party into a weaker and a less conservative position,” he said.
The lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Mississippi Senate and appoints committee leaders, giving the office enormous influence over legislation.
McDaniel criticized Hosemann for not supporting term limits legislation. He accused the incumbent of the “political assassination” of Mississippi Sen. Melanie Sojourner, a McDaniel ally from southwest Mississippi who decided not to run for re-election in her district after 2020 redistricting made it friendlier to Democrats.
The senator also criticized Hosemann for extending the geographical reach of U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson’s district. Thompson, the only Democratic member and the only Black member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation, led the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Bennie Thompson has no business governing anything in this state, much less the district he holds, but for whatever reason, Delbert Hosemann saw fit to expand his territory to envelop South Mississippi,” the Jones County senator said. “Most people don’t want that—they don’t want to be represented by Bennie Thompson. Do you?”
McDaniel said his campaign represents “our chance to change Mississippi” and “preserve the best and brightest hope of our state,” but that Republicans “can’t do it with our leaders fighting” one another. Hosemann and the Republican governor, Tate Reeves, have repeatedly clashed since 2020.
“So here’s our question, our time for choosing: Do you want a Trump or a DeSantis, or do you want a Mitt Romney or a Liz Cheney?” McDaniel said. “That’s how the race is going to be framed. Mississippi’s going to have to make that determination.”
In a press release after McDaniel’s announcement, Hosemann Senior Advisor Casey Phillips said that “after being rejected by Mississippians in three failed statewide campaigns, the least effective politician in the state with the largest ego is running again, this time for Lt. Governor.”
“By comparison, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann’s conservative record is clear, implementing Voter ID to secure our elections, delivering the largest tax cut in Mississippi’s history, and overseeing a major teacher pay raise,” he added. “Results matter and Delbert delivers.”
McDaniel has served as a state senator since 2008. In 2014, he attempted and narrowly failed to unseat longtime incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in a Mississippi Republican Party primary that went to a runoff. After Cochran died and then-Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith to the U.S. Senate in his place in 2018, McDaniel challenged her for the seat in a special election that November; he placed third behind Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy, who lost in a runoff.
McDaniel also attacked Hosemann’s leadership style. “He believes that he alone has all the answers and he punishes anyone who dares to disagree, but he’s forgotten the answers are not solely his,” he said. “You belong to the people of this state.”
“I will not dispute that he’s a hard worker, but it’s the agenda that has to be challenged,” he added. “’Cause he’s working hard for the wrong team. He’s working hard for the other side.”
Primary elections for all of Mississippi’s legislative and statewide offices, including lieutenant governor, are on Aug. 8, 2023. The general election will follow on Nov. 7, 2023.
Ashton Pittman contributed to this story.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story said Sen. Melanie Sojourner expects to lose re-election to her district due to redistricting. In fact, she is not running for re-election.