Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann waves signs on Tuesday ahead of polls closing in the Primary Election. (Photo from Hosemann's X/Twitter)
With the loss, State Senator Chris McDaniel, a four-term legislator from Jones County, will no longer hold elected office in the state come January 2024 when his term expires.
In the most heated primary race of the night, incumbent Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann has defeated Republican challengers State Senator Chris McDaniel and Tiffany Longino.
At the time of publication, Hosemann is up nearly 10 points over McDaniel, hovering around 52%. The Pine Belt has been a strong area for McDaniel in past statewide contests, but Hosemann broke the hold of the local senator. Hosemann also fared far better in DeSoto County and along the Coast than McDaniel’s team had hoped for.
Of note, Longino, a relative unknown candidate, has managed to pull in roughly 5% of the vote.
Hosemann is seeking his second term as Lt. Governor after serving three terms as Mississippi’s Secretary of State. Hosemann now moves on to face D. Ryan Glover, the Democratic Party nominee, in the General Election. With a campaign war chest of nearly $3 million, Hosemann is the odds-on favorite to win in November over the newcomer.
Lt. Governor Hosemann entered the primary race as the heavy favorite to win re-election even with the entry of State Senator McDaniel. While the two had comparable statewide name ID, Hosemann’s favorability among voters – Republicans and Democrats – was far greater than McDaniel’s.
In the State Senate where both have served over the last four years, Hosemann, the presiding officer, drew the support of the vast majority of sitting Senators while only a few were vocal in their support of McDaniel. Senators understood the math, as picking the right horse in the race between Hosemann and McDaniel would pay dividends during the next term as they sought committee assignments and support for legislation.
The race quickly turned ugly as the 2023 legislative session wound down. McDaniel labeled Hosemann “Delbert the Democrat,” calling attention to the incumbent appointing 13 Democrats to lead Senate committees while also questioning his former role in a Jackson clinic that later offered abortions. Hosemann maintained that those procedures did not occur at the facility while he was involved in the clinic. McDaniel also painted Hosemann as an obstructionist to full elimination of the state income tax and other conservative policies.
For his part, Hosemann labeled McDaniel as ineffective and absent, challenging the senator’s lack of ability to pass meaningful legislation while saying he rarely showed up to vote on behalf of his constituents. Hosemann took issue with McDaniel’s campaign finance filings, going so far as to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office over an out-of-state PAC that shared a signee between the McDaniel campaign and the PAC. In the waning days of the campaign, Hosemann’s folks even questioned if McDaniel lived at the address he claims as his residence.
Along the way, McDaniel touted his conservative bona fides, harkening back to former President Ronald Reagan’s bold conservatism, a theme he has used in stump speeches for nearly a decade. Hosemann, on the other hand, stuck to his ability to work with senators to pass legislation such as the teacher pay raise while cutting the size of government and slashing state debt.
With the loss, State Senator McDaniel, a four-term legislator from Jones County, will no longer hold elected office in the state come January 2024 when his term expires. An attorney by trade, McDaniel has said that he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and sons.
Over the last 16 years, McDaniel has been a conservative firebrand who has not shied away from speaking out against party leaders while publicly pushing them more to the right. In 2014, he challenged legendary U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in the GOP primary, drawing more votes than Cochran but unable to secure the win, falling half a percent shy of the 50% plus one necessary to secure the win.
McDaniel would go on to lose the race to Cochran in the runoff. The subsequent drawn-out election challenge coupled with highly publicized antics of a handful of his supporters damaged McDaniel’s brand for many voters. Conventional political wisdom says had McDaniel conceded and distanced himself from those bad actors, he would likely be a U.S. Senator today. Yet, that was not to be.
Four years later, following Cochran’s retirement and resignation, McDaniel tried again, running for the same U.S. Senate seat, this time to fill the unexpired term left by Cochran. However, former Governor Phil Bryant’s appointee, former Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, took the top spot in the four-person race, moving on to the runoff with Mike Espy. McDaniel finished third.
Late Tuesday night, McDaniel extended his congratulations to Hosemann on his victory and encouraged supporters to join in supporting Governor Reeves and the Republican ticket ahead of November’s general elections.
As for what the future holds for McDaniel, it’s perhaps too early to say. He traditionally plays his cards close to the vest. He did say he would be joining the ranks of hardworking Republican activists across the state. However, for Hosemann, while he still has a race to run and win, he can more or less begin organizing the Mississippi Senate once again, vetting chairmen and committee appointees for the next term, and focus on potential legislation ahead of the 2024 session.