Unless there is a last minute entry today in the Republican Primary, the candidates vying for the GOP nomination for U.S. senator on June 3 will be Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel.
Cochran is as well known as a candidate for statewide office could hope to be. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972, he became the first Republican in more than 100 years to win a statewide election in Mississippi when he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978.
McDaniel, the challenger, is serving his second term in the state Senate.
In terms of resumes, there is no contest.
So McDaniel is trying to turn Cochran's congressional record into a disadvantage.
Of particular interest to South Mississippians should be McDaniel's odd evaluation of Cochran's support for federal disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina.
According to Politico.com, McDaniel told an audience in Oxford, "I'm not going to do anything for you. I'm going to get the government off your back, then I'm gonna let you do it for yourself."
Afterwards, a Politico.com reporter asked McDaniel if he would have voted for Katrina disaster relief.
"I would have to see the details of it. I really would," said McDaniel. "I probably would have supported it, but I don't know enough about it. That's just it."
After a quick course in disaster relief or damage control, or both, McDaniel issued this clarification: "Just to be perfectly clear, I support disaster relief efforts for massive tragedies like Katrina, and I've told the media that on several occasions. However, fraud, waste, abuse and misspent funds must never be allowed."
So one minute McDaniel tells potential constituents he won't do anything for them. Then he underscores that promise by questioning the federal response to one of the worst natural disasters in the nation's history. And then he backs down and says, well, he would support disaster relief as long as, you know, it's not wasted.
That rhetoric may please McDaniel's Club for Growth supporters, but it left many Mississippians "flabbergasted," as former-Gov. Haley Barbour said.
For his part, Cochran issued a statement saying "it is critical that Mississippians can count on their elected representatives to help them in times of crisis."
"I was fortunate to be in a position to help us recover from Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in our state's history. Our delegation worked together in a bipartisan manner to make sure Katrina relief legislation was passed. I was very pleased to have been a part of the successful effort, which was supported by our colleagues across the country."
And as we have made clear in earlier editorials, Mississippi was fortunate to have Cochran in that position.
Cochran and McDaniel now have less than 100 days to make their case for which of them is best suited to serve in the U.S. Senate until 2020. Neither should leave that task to surrogates or advocacy groups
After more than 40 years in Congress, Mississippians have a clear picture of Cochran.
But it is difficult to get a clear image of McDaniel.
This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board,which consists of President-Publisher Glen Nardi,Vice President and Executive Editor Stan Tiner,Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Flora S. Point,Audience and Human Resources Director Wanda Howell,Marketing and Interactive Director John McFarland and Associate Editor Tony Biffle. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own.