Christopher Brian McDaniel (born June 28, 1971) is an American attorney, talk radio host, perennial candidate for statewide office, and politician who served in the Mississippi State Senate from 2008 to 2024.[1][2] His politics have been widely described as far-right.[3][4][5]

Chris McDaniel
McDaniel in 2018
Member of the Mississippi Senate
from the 42nd district
In office
January 8, 2008 – January 2, 2024
Preceded byStacey Pickering
Succeeded byRobin Robinson
Personal details
Christopher Brian McDaniel

(1971-06-28) June 28, 1971 (age 52)
Laurel, Mississippi, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseJill Tullos McDaniel
  • Carlos McDaniel
  • Charlotte McDaniel
EducationJones County Junior College (AA)
William Carey University (BS)
University of Mississippi (JD)

A member of the Republican Party, McDaniel gained national attention for his Tea Party-backed 2014 Republican primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran. After neither candidate received a majority in a hard-fought primary, Cochran narrowly defeated McDaniel in the runoff election.[6] McDaniel ran for the U.S. Senate again in 2018, winning 16.4% of the vote in the nonpartisan, four-candidate primary. McDaniel then ran for Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent Delbert Hosemann.

Early life and education edit

McDaniel was born in Laurel, Mississippi.[7][8] He is the only child of Carlos and Charlotte McDaniel.[9] He graduated with honors from Jones County Junior College[7][8] and the grandson of Luke McDaniel, a country and rockabilly singer. and received a B.S. with honors from William Carey University in 1994.[7][8] He then entered the University of Mississippi School of Law, graduating cum laude in 1997 with a Juris Doctor degree.[7][8][10] McDaniel resides with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi.[7][8]

Legal and radio career edit

In 1997, McDaniel entered a two-year federal clerkship with United States District Court Judge Charles W. Pickering.[8] After leaving that position, he joined the law firm Hortman Harlow Bassi Robinson & McDaniel,[8][11] becoming a partner in 2003. His areas of concentration include litigation, insurance defense, corporate law, products liability, commercial litigation, consumer products litigation, mass tort litigation, complex multi-party litigation, legislation, Constitutional law, and civil rights. He is licensed to practice law in Mississippi and Texas.[8][10][12][13] In 2010, he was named one of the top 50 lawyers in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal.[10][14]

McDaniel is the former host of The Right Side Radio Show on WMXI 98.1 FM in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, nationally syndicated since 2006 by EBN Radio Network and Golden Broadcasters. The show was broadcast nationwide on ABC Radio Networks and the industry standard Starguide III system.[15] It returned to local stations after McDaniel left the show.[16][17]

Political career edit

McDaniel is a Republican who has served in the Mississippi Senate since 2008.[2]

McDaniel was named 2010 Citizen of the Year by the Laurel Leader Call.[10]

In 2012, McDaniel led a delegation to the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas, for the dedication of a monument to the eight Mississippians who died when the fort was overrun in 1836.[18][19][20]

2014 U.S. Senate campaign edit

In 2014, McDaniel ran for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Thad Cochran.

Although McDaniel was not initially believed to pose a serious threat to Cochran, he proved a formidable challenger. Polling showed the lead swinging between the two and it eventually became a "50%-50% race".[21] McDaniel was vocal about his intention to repeal Obamacare and to work to lower the national debt.[22]

The primary was considered a marquee establishment-versus-Tea Party fight. Cochran's seniority and appropriating skills contrasted with the junior status of the rest of the state's congressional delegation.[23] The primary was called "nasty"[24] and full of "bizarre" twists.[25]

In May 2014, a scandal emerged when a McDaniel supporter allegedly entered a nursing home where Cochran's bedridden wife was living and took pictures of her.[24] The images were posted to a blog, intending to advance the rumor that Cochran was having affairs while his wife was receiving care.[26][27] Four people were arrested in connection with the incident.[26] The connection to the McDaniel campaign was disputed. One of the arrested included McDaniel ally Mark Mayfield, who was vice chairman of the state's Tea Party.[28] In response, McDaniel said, "the violation of the privacy of Mrs. Cochran [was] out of bounds for politics and reprehensible."[29]

Neither candidate won a majority in the primary election; McDaniel won 49.46% of the vote to Cochran's 49.02%.[30] A runoff election was held on June 24.[31] Despite trailing in most of the polls,[32] Cochran won with 51.01% of the vote to McDaniel's 48.99%.[30][33]

In the aftermath of the election, the McDaniel campaign claimed there were signs of voter fraud. The campaign asserted that about 3,300 Democrats had voted for Cochran in the runoff. The campaign said it was investigating whether the crossover voting violated Mississippi law.[34] A day after the state party certified the election results, Senator Ted Cruz and some Tea Party groups backed an investigation of alleged voter fraud in the runoff.[35] Cruz also told reporters that groups aligned with Cochran's campaign had run racially charged ads designed to persuade black voters to vote against McDaniel.[35][36] Of the ads, McDaniel said that the GOP is "a party that does not need to play the race card to win."[37]

In July 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court rejected McDaniel's request for access to poll books without voters' birthdates blacked out, which his attorneys argued were needed to identify fraudulent votes.[38] In August, a Mississippi judge dismissed McDaniel's challenge.[39] In October, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's dismissal in a 4–2 decision.[40]

2018 U.S. Senate campaign edit

Chris McDaniel campaign sign, 2018

McDaniel originally declared that he would run against Senator Roger Wicker in the 2018 Republican primary.[41][42] On March 5, 2018, Thad Cochran announced he would resign effective April 1, 2018, due to health concerns.[43] Republican governor Phil Bryant appointed Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill the vacancy created by Cochran's resignation.[44] A nonpartisan blanket primary to fill the vacancy for the remainder of Cochran's Senate term was scheduled for November 6, 2018.[43] These developments prompted McDaniel to cease his primary challenge to Wicker and instead run in the nonpartisan blanket primary to fill Cochran's vacated seat. McDaniel said, "by announcing early, we are asking Mississippi Republicans to unite around my candidacy and avoid another contentious contest among GOP members that would only improve the Democrats' chances of winning the open seat." He was the second candidate to enter the race. The first, Democrat Mike Espy, declared his candidacy shortly after Cochran announced his resignation.[45][46] Hyde-Smith later defeated McDaniel in a nonpartisan blanket primary with two Democrats and two Republicans contending for the office; McDaniel received 16.4% of the vote.[47]

2023 lieutenant governor campaign edit

On January 30, 2023, McDaniel announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor of Mississippi in 2023, challenging incumbent Delbert Hosemann in the Republican primary.[48] McDaniel lost this race.

Political positions edit

McDaniel's political views are generally described as far-right .[3][4]

Eminent domain edit

As a first-term senator in 2010, McDaniel urged his fellow state senators to override Governor Haley Barbour's veto of eminent domain legislation that would prevent government from taking private land for use by private companies.[49] The override effort failed by two votes, but began a ballot initiative to amend the Mississippi Constitution. The ballot initiative passed the following year.[50]

Healthcare edit

In April 2010, McDaniel led a lawsuit seeking to have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) deemed unconstitutional.[51][52]

LGBT rights and women edit

McDaniel has said of former attorney general Janet Reno, "I'm not even sure Janet Reno was a woman".[53] He has said that the Democratic Party is the party of "sex on demand, the party that supports the homosexual agenda".[53] On January 22, 2017, McDaniel responded on Facebook to the 2017 Women's March by referring to marchers as "a bunch of unhappy liberal women" and stated that he opposes using federal funds to pay for birth control and abortion.[54]

Immigration edit

In 2007, McDaniel's immigration policy, as stated on his website, plagiarized text from a number of anti-immigration groups.[55] McDaniel opposes a pathway to citizenship or temporary work permits for undocumented immigrants.[56][57] He opposes increases in residency permits and work visas.[57]

Views on sexual assault edit

In a September 2018 appearance on American Family Radio, in reference to the allegation of sexual assault against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, McDaniel contended that sexual assault allegations "99 percent of the time are just absolutely fabricated." No research supports this claim.[58][59]

Southern secessionism and the Confederacy edit

In his 2018 Senate campaign, McDaniel promised to preserve Mississippians' right to decide the flag of Mississippi, which at that time bore an image of the Confederate battle flag. This former flag features in McDaniel's campaign materials.[60] McDaniel has spoken at conferences held by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.[61][62][63] In 2006–2007, he made controversial statements on reparations for slavery, race, and women on his talk radio show.[64][65][66]

In August 2017, McDaniel claimed on his Twitter account that Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate States Army, was opposed to slavery.[67] (Lee accepted "the extinction of slavery" provided for by the Thirteenth Amendment, but believed slavery was good for black people, publicly opposed racial equality, and opposed granting African Americans the right to vote and other political rights.)[68][69][70] McDaniel later defended his views on Lee in a Facebook post that was discovered to have been plagiarized from Dinesh D'Souza.[71]

The website for McDaniel's broadcast show "The Right Side Radio Show" listed the website of the League of the South—a secessionist "Southern Nationalist" organization—as one of his favorite websites.[53] When asked about this in 2018, McDaniel's spokesperson said McDaniel "has never endorsed the League of the South and has nothing to do with them."[53]

Personal life edit

McDaniel is married to Jill Tullos McDaniel, who was the 1995 Miss Mississippi USA.[72] They have two children. McDaniel is a Southern Baptist.[8][73]

Electoral history edit

Mississippi's 42nd State Senate District Republican primary results, 2007
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris McDaniel 2,790 77.27%
Republican Alvis Jeffcoat 821 22.73%
Total votes 3,611 100.00%
Mississippi's 42nd State Senate District General Election, 2007
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris McDaniel 10,261 60.87%
Democratic Martin C. "Popcorn" Beech 6,596 39.13%
Total votes 16,857 100.00%
Republican hold
Mississippi's 42nd State Senate District General Election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris McDaniel (incumbent) 17,590 100.00%
Total votes 17,590 100.00%
Republican hold
Mississippi U.S. Senate Republican primary results, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris McDaniel 157,733 49.46%
Republican Thad Cochran (incumbent) 156,315 49.02%
Republican Thomas Carey 4,854 1.52%
Total votes 318,902 100.00%
Mississippi U.S. Senate Republican primary runoff results, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thad Cochran (incumbent) 194,972 51.01%
Republican Chris McDaniel 187,249 48.99%
Total votes 382,197 100.00%
Mississippi's 42nd State Senate District General Election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris McDaniel (incumbent) 12,489 85.81%
Democratic Johnny Henry 2,065 14.19%
Total votes 14,554 100.00%
Republican hold
2018 United States Senate special election in Mississippi
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent) 389,995 41.25%
Democratic Mike Espy 386,742 40.90%
Republican Chris McDaniel 154,878 16.38%
Nonpartisan Tobey Bartee 13,852 1.47%
Total votes 945,467 100.00%
Mississippi's 42nd State Senate District General Election, 2019
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris McDaniel (incumbent) 15,728 100.00%
Total votes 15,728 100.00%
Republican hold
Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Republican primary results, 2023
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Delbert Hosemann (incumbent) 198,979 52.11%
Republican Chris McDaniel 162,708 42.61%
Republican Tiffany Longino 20,143 5.28%
Total votes 381,830 100.00%

References edit

  1. ^ "Attorney, Partner of Hortman, Harlow, Bassi, Robinson and McDaniel, PLLC". Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Senator Chris McDaniel's Biography". Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Adam Ganucheau, Bobby Harrison, Larrison Campbell & Erica Hensley (November 6, 2018). "In historic Senate showdown, Mississippi will elect first woman or first African American". Mississippi Today. far-right challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b Sean Sullivan & Robert Costa (February 26, 2016). "Chris McDaniel of Mississippi plans to hold rally amid Senate-run intrigue". Washington Post. His far-right views have spurred fear among some GOP leaders that he is a liability in the general election.
  5. ^ Scott, Dylan (March 21, 2018). "Democrats have a legitimate shot to win the Mississippi Senate race". Vox. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  6. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (June 24, 2014). "Cochran Holds Off Tea Party Challenger in Mississippi". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Chris McDaniel, District 42 – Jones". Mississippi State Senate. Jackson, Mississippi: State of Mississippi. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Member Profile, Hon. Sen. Chris McDaniel". Republican National Lawyers Association. Washington, DC. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  9. ^ Daily, Mississippi Conservative (June 1, 2014). "Senator Chris McDaniel: No Joining Hands Across the Aisle". Archived from the original on July 29, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d Personal web page – Biography Archived March 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
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  12. ^ "Senator Christopher B. McDaniel Lawyer Profile on". Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  13. ^ "State Bar of Texas". September 17, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  14. ^ "Sen. Chris McDaniel profile at". Mississippi Business Journal. November 21, 2010. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  15. ^ "Matrix Media, Inc". Matrix Media, Inc. August 7, 2005. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
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  32. ^ "Polling Data". Real Clear Politics. June 24, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  33. ^ "Precinct Data". The New York Times. July 9, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2015..
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  35. ^ a b Espo, David. "Cruz, Tea Party Groups Want Probe of Miss. Runoff". Associated Press. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
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  44. ^ Eric Bradner; Kaitlan Collins; Ashley Killough (March 20, 2018). "Governor picks Cindy Hyde-Smith to replace Cochran". CNN.
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  49. ^ Harrison, Bobby. "McDaniel has made waves in the Senate". Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
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  54. ^ Williams, Angela (January 23, 2017). "Chris McDaniel slams 'unhappy liberal women' after march". Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  55. ^ Andrew Kaczynski & Gideon Resnick (June 14, 2014). "In First Run For Office, Chris McDaniel Plagiarized Immigration Plan". BuzzFeed News.
  56. ^ Nowrasteh, Alex. "New Anti-Immigration Pledge Violates American Principles". Retrieved February 3, 2023. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has sponsored a pledge for political candidates to oppose legal immigration as well as amnesty for unauthorized immigrants. FAIR's pledge has already garnered some signatories like Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel
  57. ^ a b "A Big Shift Is Happening In American Views On Immigration". Business Insider. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  58. ^ Larrison Campbell (September 19, 2018). "Fact check: McDaniel's claim that women fake '99 percent' of sexual assault claims". Mississippi Today.
  59. ^ Alex Kasprak (September 25, 2018). "Are 99% of Rape Allegations 'Absolutely Fabricated'?". Snopes.
  60. ^ Pittmann, Ashton (September 9, 2018). "It's all fake': in Trump's heartland, talk of White House chaos rings hollow". The Guardian.
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  64. ^ Schultheis, Emily. "Chris McDaniel audio: Slavery, race, women". Politico. Retrieved June 10, 2014. Asked, for example, about reparations for slavery, McDaniel said: 'If they pass reparations, and my taxes are going up, I ain't paying taxes.' And on having to learn Spanish, he said: 'You'll have to learn just enough to ask where the bathroom is. Baños. Baños. That's what you say.' He also, when asked to translate 'Do you have a sister?' replied, 'What about mamacita? ... Mamacita works....I'm an English-speaking Anglo. I have no idea what it means, actually, but I've said it a few times, just for, you know, fun. And I think it basically means, "Hey, hot mama." Or, you know, "You're a fine looking young thing."'
  65. ^ "Miss. Senate Hopeful Chris McDaniel Riffed on 'Mamacita,' Reparations". The Wall Street Journal. April 10, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  66. ^ "Don't Call Me 'Mamacita.' I Am Not Your Mommy". NPR. June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
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  68. ^ John McKee Barr. Loathing Lincoln: An American Tradition from the Civil War to the Present (LSU Press, 2014), 59.
  69. ^ Eric Foner. "The Making and the Breaking of the Legend of Robert E. Lee". The New York Times (August 28, 2017).
  70. ^ Serwer, Adam (June 4, 2017). "The Myth of the Kindly General Lee". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  71. ^ Raymond, Adam K. "Is Robert E. Lee a Hero? GOP Candidate's Twitter Poll Isn't Going as He Hoped". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  72. ^ Jason, Vannatta. "Welcome To Miss Mississippi Usa And Miss Mississippi Teen Usa". Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  73. ^ "Carey inducts alumni". Mississippi Business Journal. May 27, 2012. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.

External links edit