One way to tell how seriously a sitting senator takes a primary challenge is by looking at how tough the incumbent's ads are. In the case of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and a new spot his campaign launched Thursday, the answer seems to be that he takes state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), a tea party favorite, very seriously.
The new ad, which Cochran spokesman Jordan Russell said will run on TV and cable, was tweeted out to the world with the message that McDaniel is "wrong on meth."
You can watch it, above.
McDaniel is "wrong on meth," the ad argues, because he was one of just four Mississippi state senators to vote against a law to require prescriptions for the allergy medication pseudoephedrine, which is a key ingredient in home-cooked methamphetamine.
Mississippi was plagued by meth labs before the 2010 law was passed, and they have all but vanished since. News outlets that looked into the law's impact earlier this year noted its success, but also pointed out that it had raised some health care costs. Meth still exists in Mississippi, but it comes from elsewhere, and deadly meth lab explosions are now rare.
“The more voters in Mississippi find out about Chris McDaniel’s record, the more troubling it is -- and the more questions it raises about his priorities,” said Russell in a statement touting the ad and the law. "It’s legislation that has been very effective in reducing meth labs by 93% in our state. When [former Gov.] Haley Barbour, [current Gov.] Phil Bryant and almost every member of the Mississippi Legislature pulled together to help law enforcement protect our citizens in the fight against crystal meth, Chris McDaniel [voted] against this important bill. Even though out-of-state Washington, D.C., groups continue spending millions to fund advertising campaigns for Chris McDaniel, the facts are clear that when Mississippi needed Chris McDaniel to help fight crystal meth drug crime, he refused to help.”
McDaniel's campaign fired back that the ad was just an attempt to distract from Cochran's record.
"Thad Cochran's latest advertisement is yet another desperate attempt by a career politician to hide his liberal record of big spending, raising taxes, voting to fund Obamacare, and voting for taxpayer-funded abortion," said McDaniel spokesman Noel Frisch, pointing to a Breitbart story alleging that Cochran was unaware of the timing of the Supreme Court's Obamacare arguments as evidence of Cochran being out of touch with conservatives.
As for McDaniel's vote against the anti-meth law, Frisch said, "Sen. McDaniel voted against the legislation because it placed a financial hardship on Mississippians who suffer from colds and allergies, and similar legislation in Oregon has had adverse consequences."