Cochran challenger drops out of rally with white nationalist

State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) primary challenger, will no longer attend a conservative rally where he was billed alongside a Confederate memorabilia merchant who is also a white nationalist.

According to Talking Points Memo, as late as Wednesday afternoon, McDaniel was listed as the keynote speaker for the Combined Firearm Freedom Day/Tea Party Music Fest in Guntown, Miss., in May. Shortly after the controversial racial views of one of the attendees were highlighted by a local blog, McDaniel was removed from the flyer and his campaign claimed he was "not confirmed" for the event.

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Included in the list of attendees was Pace Confederate Depot, a Confederate memorabilia store owned by Brian Pace. Pace has made multiple comments advocating for white separatism, and was quoted in a local news report as declaring, “whenever we had racial segregation things were much better off.”

After a local political blog run by a Cochran supporter flagged the connection, TPM was told by the McDaniel campaign that the candidate was “not confirmed” for the event. His campaign manager, state Sen. Melanie Sojourner, who was also listed as an attendee, told the site that “there was never any confirmation on exact events or what was happening.”

And McDaniel's spokesman, Noel Fritsch, said McDaniel had never agreed to the event.

"Chris McDaniel never agreed to attend the event and will not attend the event," he said.

However, Kevin Owen, the organizer of the event, told TPM McDaniel had been confirmed as the keynote speaker.

By Wednesday evening, the organizers of the event posted a revised flyer that omitted McDaniel but still included Sojourner.

A post on the event’s Facebook page published Wednesday night confirmed that after the local political blog publicized Pace’s racial views, some vendors had been removed from the event and “many [attendees] now are running scared and have pulled out of rally.”

“tupelo tea party,mcdaniel campaign and ms.for liberty,naturally thad's minions have the liberal organizations all over jumping on this which is what they want. anything to disrupt the mcdaniel campaign.however another thought is if mcdaniel runs scared from a false story here in Ms.before he is even elected,what would he do in D.C.?? dilemma..” the post reads, and goes on to ask whether the event should be canceled.

McDaniel has been connected to similarly controversial events in the past. According to a Mother Jones report, McDaniel attended a neo-conservative event, and McDaniel’s Twitter account once re-tweeted from an account that appeared to have been run by a white supremacist.

Still, McDaniel has perhaps the best shot of any candidate facing an incumbent in a primary of toppling the incumbent, and has gained traction among conservatives both locally and nationwide. He's been endorsed by the Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund, along with other conservative groups.