Baria made the announcement within hours Wednesday of state Sen. Chris McDaniel holding an event at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville to announce he was challenging Wicker in the Republican primary.

The party primaries will be in June and the general election is in November.

“I want to give voters a true choice, and I plan to spend the campaign listening to voters and working hard to earn their trust,” said Baria, an attorney who is in his second term in the Mississippi House after serving one term in the state Senate.

Many believe that in Mississippi, viewed as a strong Republican state, a Democrat would stand a better chance in a general election against McDaniel than against the incumbent Wicker.

McDaniel, a state senator, came close to defeating Mississippi’s senior U.S. senator, Thad Cochran, in the 2014 Republican primary.

Speculation has persisted that Cochran, age 80, will step down this year, requiring a second senatorial election to be held in the state.

Bobby Harrison / Daily Journal