Among the conservative activists challenging incumbent U.S. senators in 2014, McDaniel is the only one to receive the unanimous support of all the powerful outside groups that fuel campaigns on the right. When he announced last October, he won instant endorsements from the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison project; FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots followed only a little while later.
It didn’t happen by accident.
As early as the start of last summer, McDaniel was reaching out to national conservative groups — including SCF, FreedomWorks and the Club — to ascertain their interest in a challenge to Cochran. The operatives who met with him came away wowed and heard from local activists who had urged McDaniel as early as 2012 to consider a challenge to Cochran.
“We heard he was looking into running for [the] House. We looked into him and heard so many good things about him that we pushed him to run for Senate,” said Daniel Horowitz, a strategist for the Madison Project.
McDaniel’s early outreach paid off handsomely. As of last week, the Club and the SCF had routed approximately $310,000 into McDaniel’s coffers, according to the two groups. (As of Dec. 31, McDaniel reported raising a total of $461,000 for his campaign.) He has hired the same consulting firm, Cold Spark Media, that is advising Kentucky activist Matt Bevin’s primary challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.