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Senator Wicker faces GOP Primary Challenge as Democrats back Pinkins

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (Photo from Senator Wicker)

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker is sitting on over $5 million in campaign funds as his bid for re-election kicks into gear. He’ll face at least two challengers in the March Republican Primary. A Democrat who’s been running for over a year awaits in November.

The race for the Mississippi U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Roger Wicker is in full swing as qualifying nears its end on Monday, January 15th.

Wicker, the state’s senior Senator who has served in the chamber since 2007, launched his re-election campaign before the New Year. Since then, he has been actively traversing the state, speaking at events and laying the groundwork for the March 12th Republican Primary.

Senator Wicker has said that he will continue to hold Democrats and the Biden Administration accountable “as we fight to take back the Senate and the White House in 2024.”

On Tuesday, Wicker’s campaign announced its fourth consecutive fundraising quarter with over $1 million raised, ending 2023 with just over $5.3 million cash on hand.

Jake Monssen, Wicker’s campaign manager, said in a statement announcing the fundraising haul that the Senator’s supporters across Mississippi are enthusiastic and ready for the March primary.

“Conservatives are confident in Senator Wicker’s leadership and want to see him continue moving this country back in the right direction and delivering for our state as the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Monssen said.

Republican Primary Challengers

Wicker will have at least two primary challengers on the ballot – State Rep. Dan Eubanks and retired Marine Corps Colonel Timothy “Ghannon” Burton. Neither challenger has a current campaign finance report on file with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) after filing their statement of candidacy. New filings are required this month.

Dan Eubanks

Eubanks recently ran unopposed in his re-election bid for the House District 25 seat he’s held since 2016. He has been an active member of the Freedom Caucus during his time in the Legislature.

“We have an entrenched establishment politician that has been a part of the Washington swamp and elite for going on three decades and who wants to stay there for another term well into his eighties,” Eubanks said of Wicker in a video message, adding that he could not sit ideally by and “watch the death of our beloved nation.”

Ghannon Burton

Burton is a newcomer to the Mississippi political scene. The retired Colonel is a decorated combat veteran and TOPGUN fighter pilot with a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps. In his campaign announcement, Burton said his campaign is marked by a dedication to conservative principles, a focus on unity, and a promise to prioritize the well-being of the American people.

“I am honored to return to the state that shaped me and fight for the people who have always been my community. Mississippi and America can do better, and I am here to lead that charge,” Burton said.

On the Democratic Side

Ty Pinkins re-announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate on Monday in a brief press conference held at the state Capitol. He was flanked by some of the Legislative Black Caucus, including House Minority Leader Rep. Robert Johnson.

Ty Pinkins (Photo: Jeremy Pittari/Magnolia Tribune)

“I stand before you today, filled with hope, determination, and resilience as I proudly re-announce my campaign for the United States Senate. I am running because I am concerned about the direction in which our country is going,” Pinkins told the few gathered inside the Capitol. “Families are struggling to make ends meet because life is more expensive for Mississippians, women’s reproductive rights are under attack by politicians and unelected judges, and our very democracy is being threatened by those who wish to tear down the institutional safeguards provided by our Founding Fathers that have guided us for centuries.”

The Democrat has been running for the seat since December 2022 but took a short hiatus to be the party’s substitute candidate for Secretary of State in the 2023 state elections following the withdrawal of Shuwaski Young. Pinkins lost the 2023 General Election by nearly 20 points to incumbent Republican Secretary of State Michael Watson.

Despite Pinkins having been in the race for over a year, a report from Mississippi Today using an unnamed source claims that U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D) of New York, the Senate Majority Leader, “attempted to recruit [Brandon] Presley to run against Wicker and even visited the former utility regulator at his home in Nettleton, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

Brandon Presley, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Presley recently lost his gubernatorial bid to Republican Governor Tate Reeves.

Attempts by Magnolia Tribune to verify the alleged recruitment of Presley by Schumer were unfruitful. Messages left at the Senator’s D.C. offices were not immediately returned.

Pinkins has not announced his latest fundraising numbers as of the end of 2023. However, the filing made in October shows Pinkins’ Senate campaign with just over $4,000 cash on hand.

Previous Senate Elections

In 2018, Senator Wicker faced a primary challenge from Richard Boyanton, easily defeating the newcomer in the GOP election winning over 82% of the vote. Wicker went on to defeat Democrat David Baria, Libertarian Danny Bedwell and Reform candidate Shawn O’Hara in the four-man General Election. Wicker won over 58% of the vote, with Baria receiving just over 39%.

Wicker also faced a four-man General Election in 2012, coming out on top with over 57% in that race, after winning the three-man Republican Primary with over 89%.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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