Politico reports that U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has decided to stay out of the Mississippi U.S. Senate primary runoff race between state Senator Chris McDaniel and U.S. Senator Thad Cochran. The low turnout expected in the summer runoff election will give McDaniel an opportunity to unseat the incumbent.
“We’re not going to get involved,” Paul said.
He is not the only Republican Senator staying out of this race, choosing to avoid a conflict of interest that would come from publicly supporting one candidate over another. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another Republican with possible presidential aspirations, said he is also staying out of the race.“I think in that race, I think either of the candidates would be great,” Rubio said.
Paul's decision comes a day after his father, former congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), announced his endorsement for McDaniel, a tea party favorite. The eldest Paul said McDaniel has fought for "smaller government and more personal liberties" in the Mississippi Senate.
The race has divided some Republicans and Republican lawmakers as ideology contends with political strategy.
Some Republicans say Cochran, who is seen as an establishment Republican by many conservatives, is the party's best hope of maintaining the seat. In a year where Republicans could take control of the U.S. Senate, GOP leaders -- like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- are not leaving anything to chance.
McConnell will headline a Tuesday fundraiser for the incumbent at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.
McDaniel and Cochran divided the June 3 primary vote down the middle, forcing the runoff election on June 24. The race will likely come down to which campaign has a more effective "get out the vote" effort, and could very well decide who will be sworn in as senator in 2015.