National GOP's Mississippi problem

National Republicans might not support state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) if he wins the party’s nomination in the Mississippi Senate race.

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National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran (Kan.) demurred when asked on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” whether the party would support him if he does end up defeating Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in the June 3 primary.

He said a developing scandal surrounding an apparent McDaniel supporter who allegedly took photos of Cochran’s infirm wife after sneaking into her nursing room home illegally could impact their decision.

“We will see what the facts are at the time we make a decision about that race. I expect Sen. Cochran to win his primary, and I expect him to be the next United States Senator again from Mississippi,” he said.

Cochran is considered the incumbent most vulnerable to a primary challenge this cycle, and a survey out this week from a pro-McDaniel group showed the challenger up four over the incumbent. Democrats are gleeful at the opportunity to run against McDaniel and have recruited centrist former Rep. Travis Childers to run in the general in case McDaniel offers them an opening.

If the NRSC declined to support him, Democrats would have an even stronger shot at the seat.

But McDaniel’s botched handling of this ongoing scandal — he has given a murky timeline of events concerning when and what he knew about the video — has given it legs, and three new arrests on Thursday of men related to the scheme have kept the situation in local news, and threatens to hurt his support.

Though McDaniel has repeatedly disavowed knowledge or any responsibility for the video, Moran suggested such personal attacks would be the only way to take down Cochran.

“Senator Cochran is a highly respected, great representative for the state of Mississippi. He has represented them well, and he has high favorable number is Mississippi, and the only way that you can defeat someone like Sen. Cochran in Mississippi is this kind of personal aspect,” he said.