Lucien Smith, the chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, outlined the key principles of this strategy in an interview with “The Jungle,” Mississippi Today’s election podcast. Smith, who assumed the leadership of the party earlier in the year, believes it’s crucial to convince voters that sending either former secretary Mike Espy or David Baria to the Senate would compromise President Donald Trump’s agenda, which is still popular in Mississippi. Smith stated that if we allow infighting in the Senate and a Democrat is elected there, it’s possible that the good policy the president has proposed could pass the House, but be blocked in a Chuck Schumer-run Senate.” Smith was referring to the New York senator, who would likely rise to become the majority leader if his party takes control. Smith said that he didn’t believe Republicans would allow this to happen. Smith spoke specifically about the party’s strategy to ensure both incumbent Republican senators, Roger Wicker, and Cindy Hyde Smith, are re-elected in November. Key elements: * Use Democratic Senate nominee David Baria’s liberal values against him Democrats used to say “I’m a different type of Democrat” when running in Mississippi. I’m a Mississippi Democrat. I don’t support President Obama and Hillary Clinton. David is running a clear, progressive, liberal race. Smith stated that he doesn’t believe the Democratic Senate candidate Mike Espy will be successful in Mississippi. * Mississippians should be reminded about the circumstances surrounding Democratic Senate candidate Mike Espy’s resignation from his position as Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton. Smith said: “I don’t know Mike personally and he may well be a phenomenal person, but he does have a rare distinction of being one the Clintons found corrupt to have in their government. He asked for him to resign in 1994 as Agriculture Secretary at the White House’s request. Questions about Espy’s use of government perks, as well as well as small gifts from individuals and companies and others in the agricultural industry were raised. Espy was charged with 30 criminal offenses in 1997. All 30 charges were later dropped. In the same year, Tyson Foods Inc., a poultry company, pleaded guilty in the illegal gratuities case against Espy. They also agreed to $6 million in fines. After being convicted of lying to investigators, Espy’s chief staff member was sentenced to over two years imprisonment. The scandal was Espy’s campaign motto when he declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Espy stated in a lengthy statement of candidacy that he knew what it took to defend a good name. “When false accusations are made, I believe that you have no other choice than to fight. It took me four years to correct my record, but I won the battle. This experience made me wiser, stronger, more humble, and more faithful. I also discovered that Mississippi is home to people who know you well and will give you the benefit. * Highlight relationships and strong support for President Donald Trump. Smith stated, “To the extent there’s a Trump effect here, I believe it’s positive.” All of the Republicans running are proud of their relationship with Trump, and their support for what he will do. In Mississippi, Trump is still very popular. He is an asset. He’s a great asset. They will have the opportunity to either tell voters if they would or avoid the question. He said that he believed either one of them would have political consequences. * Reach out to Chris McDaniel supporters to encourage party unity in the U.S. Senate special race Smith stated that he wanted to remind Republican voters to support McDaniel, regardless of whether they choose Hyde-Smith over McDaniel in a Nov. 27, runoff against Espy. “Chris has an extraordinary talent as a politician. His message resonates with people. We’ll watch what happens over the next few months. People in various patriot groups, such as the Tea Party, need to know that I believe they are an important force within Mississippi politics. They have had an impact at the Capitol and I believe we can agree on most issues. I look forward working with them, and everyone who wants good, conservative governance to win in 2018 as well as 2019.” Smith’s political strategy for Thursday anticipated two contentious U.S. Senate elections in November. This was already evident by the end the week. It prompted the first round of jabs between Wicker, Baria, and Smith. Wicker’s campaign issued a polite press release congratulating David Baria for his victory in the Democratic runoff, just minutes after Baria had won his primary race on Tuesday. Gayle and me look forward to seeing him at the campaign trail.” Wicker sent a graciously toned press release on Thursday. It stated that Wicker had launched his first formal attack against Baria. A Google advertisement linked to Wicker’s campaign website said: “David Baria Opposes Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.” The ad also links to a Wicker video in which Wicker discusses the importance of supporting President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Wicker wrote on his campaign website that “my Democratic opponent wants to stop President Trump at all costs.” “We already know that we cannot count on him supporting President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court,” Wicker wrote on the campaign website. Baria stated in the video that “First, I have never made any comments regarding a Supreme Court nominee before this video.” “Secondly, I wouldn’t do it because to prejudge any Supreme Court nominee would be to violate the U.S. Constitution. Senator. Mississippians need someone who will make decisions that are best for Mississippi and not on partisan agendas.” Smith acknowledged that Baria has been a member of the state Legislature since 2008 and is a well-respected up-and-comer in the state Democratic Party. He also suggested that Wicker’s 2018 race could be an opportunity for Republicans to undermine his message. Smith stated that Smith believes one of the roles of any party is to identify up-and-comers on the opposite side. We will certainly be looking into that. David seems to be doing a lot of this on his own. He is very clear that he’s a liberal. He is not a blue-dog Democrat. Smith said that he is not a John Stennis Democrat. He was instrumental in shutting down Medicaid as a means of forcing it. “I think you’ll hear more about him if he decides to run statewide next years or if (in his state House District) he chooses re-election.” Traditional Republican leaders will face unique challenges: To thwart challenges from the right in McDaniel as well as the left in Espy. McDaniel has spent years touring conservative hotbeds, and has maintained a strong base of supporters. He has now been relentlessly attacking Hyde Smith. Among the points to be noted: Hyde Smith was a Democrat from 2010 until she switched parties and ran for statewide commissioner of agriculture. Hyde Smith voted in 2008’s Democratic presidential primary which featured then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. Lucien Smith was not afraid to speak out about what he expected would be a “robust conversation on the Republican side” during this race. He said that there were still strong emotions today following the 2014 primary. “But we still came together and elected Republican nominee.” Espy stated that he had laid the foundation for a campaign to transcend party lines. “Mine will not be an independent voice” in Washington when Espy announced his candidacy. Smith declined to speculate if Hyde-Smith would win 50 percent of the vote. Smith stated that he believes that Hyde-Smith will be elected as the Republican nominee in Washington.