Wicker may be home free in ‘18

A big winner in the recent Alabama Senate race, whether he admits it or not, was Mississippi Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker who is up for re-election next year.

Never mind that Wicker was overtly supporting the Republican nominee Roy Moore against Democrat Doug Jones who narrowly won the election in a state that until recently was about as unlikely to  elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate as Mississippi.

Had Moore, a seriously flawed candidate, won the election with the backing of strategist Steve Bannon, it would have given impetus to a 2018 campaign against Wicker by State Sen. Chris McDaniel.

Bannon, the Machiavellian former counselor to President Donald Trump and bane to the Republican leadership in Congress, wants to reconfigure the Republican party to his own liking. He was expected to financially back the politically maverick McDaniel in a challenge to Wicker, and he may still do so. But success for McDaniel, who almost defeated Sen. Thad Cochran in 2014, looks a lot less likely in the wake of the Alabama Republican debacle than it did a few months ago.

Meanwhile, Wicker — obviously fearing being “primaried” by Bannon and company — has tilted more to the right embracing President Trump and speaking kindly of Confederate President Jefferson Davis at, of all places, dedication of a civil rights museum in Jackson. The Jeff Davis nod may have been meant to offset Wicker’s previous endorsement of removing the Confederate battle flag from the official state banner.

Trump seems all in for Wicker now, and a good guess is that next year’s election won’t be very close either in the primary or the general.

A bigger question now is how much longer will the ailing Thad Cochran stay in office and who will be his replacement.