Family feud? Barbour family split in Mississippi Senate race

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The heated Mississippi Senate Republican primary has sparked a Barbour family split.

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Conservative news site Breitbart is reporting Jeppie Barbour, the brother of former Gov. Haley Barbour, has endorsed state Sen. Chris McDaniel in his primary challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).

“I am for McDaniel because Congress spends too much money and Thad Cochran is right in the middle of spending and borrowing money,” he said.

“I resent my grandchildren having to pay for these politicians to party. I am ready for a change,” he added. 

Jeppie Barbour is the father of Henry and Austin Barbour, two prominent Republican operatives in the state who are actively supporting Cochran’s reelection bid. Henry advises a pro-Cochran super-PAC, while Austin is an adviser to Cochran’s campaign.

He told Breitbart his sons and brother “are not happy about” his endorsement for McDaniel, “but I’m right,” predicting “a parade” of support from Republicans if McDaniel does win the nomination.

And some Mississippi Republicans, according to Breitbart, have signaled they will back McDaniel if he takes the nomination on Tuesday, an acknowledgment of the very real possibility Cochran will become the first incumbent senator to fall to a primary challenge this cycle.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who has endorsed Cochran, reportedly told Republicans in Southaven, Miss., that he’ll support the eventual nominee.

Joe Nosef, the state GOP chairman, said he’ll support the eventual nominee regardless of who it is — a position typically held by state party figures, who traditionally stay out of primaries.

Jeppie Barbour’s endorsement follows one from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who cut a radio ad for the candidate this week, and another from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R). Nearly every major national conservative group has weighed in on the race in favor of McDaniel, seeing Cochran as the incumbent most vulnerable to a primary challenge this cycle. 

But controversy surrounding photos allegedly taken by a supporter of McDaniel’s campaign of Cochran’s infirm wife in her nursing home bed has beset McDaniel’s campaign, and derailed his narrative in the final weeks of the race. 

He’s spent the past week and a half struggling to explain when and what he knew about the video, and the Cochran campaign has run advertising connecting him to three of the four men who allegedly orchestrated the scheme.

McDaniel's allies believe he's still got a shot and have been spending heavily on advertising for him in the final stretch, but so have pro-Cochran groups. 

The outcome of the primary could have an impact on the competitiveness of the general, where the Republican nominee will face former Rep. Travis Childers (D). Democrats and establishment Republicans believe Childers could have a solid shot at picking up the seat if McDaniel wins. 

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