Petal Mayor Hal Marx has joined a list of state Republicans to sign their names to an open letter from Sen. Chris McDaniel to President Donald Trump opposing the appointment of Cindy Hyde-Smith to Thad Cochran’s soon-to-be retired U.S. Senate seat.
“I’m puzzled by why (Gov. Phil Bryant) chose not to appoint Senator McDaniel, when Senator McDaniel already has the level of support statewide among conservative Republicans that he does,” Marx said. “I don’t know much about Mrs. Hyde-Smith – I know she was a Democrat until she decided to run for a statewide race.
“That doesn’t mean she’s not a conservative, but it does make me wonder why, of all the people that could have been chosen, that she was chosen.”
In the letter, McDaniel, R-Ellisville, urges Trump not to endorse the campaign of Hyde-Smith, who currently serves as the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith on Wednesday to replace Cochran, who recently announced he would retire April 1 after seven terms in the Senate.
“(Hyde-Smith’s) only experience as a legislator was as a Democrat,” McDaniel writes to Trump in the letter. “She changed her party affiliation because she would not have won a statewide race as a Democrat.
“She is very unlikely to make the runoff in November, which is why we are writing to you, asking that you not lend your name to a candidate that is likely to lose.”
Marx is one of three officials in Forrest County to lend his name to the letter, along with Forrest County Executive Committee member Lewis Garvin and Hattiesburg Tea Party Organizer Jennifer West. No officials from Lamar County had signed the letter as of Wednesday.
In February, McDaniel announced his candidacy for this year’s Senate primary, challenging incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker for the spot. About three weeks later, McDaniel withdrew from that race to enter the November special election for Cochran’s seat.
McDaniel issued a statement Wednesday expressing his disappointment in Hyde-Smith’s appointment.
“Knowing the establishment’s opposition to conservatives, it was not at all surprising that they would choose a former Democrat,” he said in the statement. “Nevertheless, I am pleased that Mississippi voters will have a clear choice in November for the open seat for United States Senate.
“They can choose from among the Democratic candidates or they can vote for a lifelong conservative Republican.”
Marx said he plans to support McDaniel in the upcoming special election.
“I think he’s the best choice to be our next United States senator, and I’m always happy to do whatever I can to support his campaigns,” he said. “I think that we need a true conservative to represent us in Washington, and I believe that Senator McDaniel would do the best job.”