Add libertarian hero Ron Paul to the growing list of conservative and Tea Party leaders joining the upstart campaign of State Sen. Chris McDaniel, who shocked the Washington GOP establishment by besting longtime Sen. Thad Cochran in a primary last week.

"Chris McDaniel has been a fighter in the Mississippi Senate for smaller government and more personal liberties. We need Chris McDaniel in the U.S. Senate and I am proud to endorse his campaign,” said Paul in a release from McDaniel's campaign.

In last week’s primary, McDaniel won 1,386 votes more than Cochran. But because he didn’t win 50 percent of the vote, the two are set for a runoff election June 24.

Paul joins several other critics of the mainstream GOP and Washington backing McDaniel, including Sarah Palin, the Tea Party Express, Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks, former Sen. Rick Santorum, conservative leaders Gary Bauer and Phyllis Schlafly and media personalities Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck.

"This really is the beginning of the big tent here in Mississippi," said a McDaniel associate.

McDaniel said he hopes that Paul’s endorsement will push his followers to the polls.

"Ron Paul has been an inspiration to so many to become involved in politics and to engage the system, which is exactly what our nation needs at this crucial juncture," McDaniel said. "Dr. Paul is a true champion for civil liberties and opponent of government overreach and out-of-control spending, and I'm very excited to have his endorsement in our fight for liberty in Mississippi," he added.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at