On the night of June 24, state Sen. Chris McDaniel took the podium from his fellow Mississippi state legislator Michael Watson after results came in for the Republican primary run-off for the U.S. Senate.
McDaniel stepped to the microphone not to concede, but to reject defeat and to issue a call to arms.
After losing in his bid against incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran by around 7,000 votes, McDaniel started weaving the narrative that would serve as a clarion call to his supporters in the Tea Party to help him claim the seat he believed was rightfully his.
“There were literally dozens of irregularities reported all across this state. And you know why. You read the stories. You’re familiar. You’re familiar with the problems we have,” he signaled, to grunts of assent as the sentence trailed off.
The tea-party movement—a radical faction of the modern conservative movement, itself an offshoot in many ways of mainstream Republicanism—was slow to arrive in Mississippi, like a lot of things. The tea party made its mark on the national stage in 2010, when it dislodged mostly conservative Democrats, but no self-professed tea-party members from Mississippi went to Capitol Hill. Arguably, the tea party did not become a force in Mississippi politics until 2011, when it dubbed Phil Bryant the nation’s first tea-party governor. (Jackson Free Press)