The big theme for 2014 in the Magnolia State is the battle between the conservative grassroots and the the establishment of the Republican Party. And in a bastion of conservatism like Mississippi, that’s where the Tea Party has its best chance to get its people into office.
Senate: Incumbent Senator Thad Cochran (R) has been in the office for more than 35 year, but hasn’t stopped State Senator Chris McDaniel from launching a primary challenge from the right. And as we learned from 2010 (remember Bob Bennett?) and 2012 (remember Dick Lugar?). the advantage of incumbency does not ensure immunity from the ire of the conservative base of the Republican Party. That being said, Cochran is a in a decent position for 2014 and he has the strong backing of the Mississippi political establishment, including former Governor Haley Barbour. The most recent polling has him well ahead of McDaniel and right now, Cochran is still the favorite for reelection. But as a word of caution, primary day is still almost three months away and if organizations like the Senate Conservatives Fund flood the state with outside cash, then it could pose problems for Cochran. But no matter who wins the Republican primary, the GOP is expected to retain this seat in the reddest of red states. This race is Safe Republican.
MS-04: Rep. Steven Palazzo (R) is on the conservative Club for Growth’s hit list that targets what it calls RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). But his main challenger, the bow-tied Tavish Kelly, has been outraised by Palazzo by almost 50 to 1 so far this cycle and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be much of a threat. Another candidate running in the GOP primary is former Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor, someone who is not likely to get the endorsements of conservative groups any time soon. All in all, it is hard to see anyone beating Palazzo this year and even if someone does, the GOP has a lock on this seat. This race is Safe Republican.