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Cochran Narrowly Holds off Tea Party Challenger in Mississippi Senate Race

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

In Kentucky and Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R) easily brushed aside Tea Party challengers in Republican Primaries.

In Virginia, the Tea Party challenger, David Bratt (R), unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R).

In Mississippi on Tuesday, June 24, the two GOP factions just about evenly split the vote in the Mississippi Republican Runoff.  An aging Senator Thad Cochran finished the night with 50.8 percent of the vote to State Senator Chris McDaniel’s 49.2 percent for the win in a tight Republican runoff race that was too close to call for much of the evening.

Neither candidate had the 50 percent plus one needed to win the GOP nomination outright in the State’s June 3 primary necessitating the runoff due to a third candidate in the race who drew 1.5% of the Primary vote.

Cochran had the support of former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, popular retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, former Senator Trent Lott (R), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

McDaniel was supported by national GOP celebrities including: former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and talk radio host Mark Levin.

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Senator Thad Cochran said, “It’s been a real pleasure working with so many of you and making appearances in towns all across Mississippi.” The 76 year old Cochran who was first elected to Congress in 1972, is running for his seventh term in the United States Senate.

State Senator Chris McDaniel refused to admit defeat.  “We are not prone to surrender, we Mississippians.  Before this race is over we have to be absolutely certain the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.”

In a controversial move that may have won him the hard fought election, Sen. Cochran in the closing days of the campaign reached out to Mississippi’s Blacks and union members for their support.

In the 2012 General Election 664,000 Mississippians voted for Governor Mitt Romney for President.  However only about 375,000 people voted in total in Tuesday’s Republican Runoff election even though over $12 million was spent between the two sides in this race.  Some McDaniel supporters are already blaming Democrats who came to the polls in Mississippi (an open primary state) for the ~6,673 vote loss; but a bigger question is why the McDaniel campaign could not motivate 289,000 Republican voters ( 43.5 percent of GOP voters in the state) to come out to vote in this election?

Those voters did not come out to reelect Senator Cochran so apparently weren’t eager for a seventh Cochran term; therefore were potential McDaniel voters.  A key question for Tea Party strategists has to be: what did the McDaniel campaign do so badly that they were only able to receive votes from 27.8 percent of the potential GOP base?….and Romney did considerably worse in Mississippi than Sen. John McCain so the Alabama Political Reporter may be understating the true size of the Mississippi GOP electorate.

In the November 4th General Election, Sen. Cochran will face Democrat Travis Childers, a former congressman.


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Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.



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