Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran will run for re-election, he said Friday, setting up a divisive Republican primary.
The Clarion-Ledger broke the news.
First elected to the Senate in 1978, Cochran faces a challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who has secured the backing from conservative groups including the Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, Tea Party Express and the Madison Project. The primary is shaping fight that pits the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which supports incumbents, against outside conservative groups.
A Public Policy Polling poll last month found that 55 percent of Mississippi Republican primary voters would prefer “someone more conservative” than Cochran. McDaniel is not well known among the Republican electorate — 50 percent said they were “not sure” what they thought about him.
Still, in a head to head match up with Cochran, McDaniel was not too far behind, trailing 38 percent to 44 percent.
“Sen. Cochran has had a long and distinguished career representing the people of Mississippi,” McDaniel said in a statement. “I look forward to a positive campaign based on the future of our state, our country and the Republican Party. As a strong conservative, I will fight to bring those values to Washington.”