In a Republican primary runoff where turnout surged compared to that in the first round of voting, Cochran escaped with a narrow 51-49 percent win over Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. Boosted by high Democratic turnout, particularly among African Americans in Jackson and the Mississippi Delta, the six-term U.S. senator pulled out a surprise victory after finishing behind the two-term state senator in the initial primary on June 3. But with McDaniel threatening litigation, this political saga may not be over yet.
The campaign between Cochran and McDaniel had became a key litmus test for the battle between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party as outside groups and celebrities flocked to the campaign in recent weeks. Cochran boasted the support of Senator John McCain, the Chamber of Commerce and NFL great Brett Favre, while McDaniel was backed by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the Club for Growth, and television host Chuck Woolery. The race focused on Cochran’s long record in Washington working to deliver federal money to the Magnolia State and what was perceived as a tendency toward moderation and compromise. While Cochran bragged about his accomplishments as the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, McDaniel attacked him as an example of all that was wrong with Washington and pork-barrel spending.
On election night, McDaniel took to the stage after being introduced as “the Republican nominee for Senate.” The Tea Partier then raged against “a Republican primary decided by liberal Democrats” and essentially accused Cochran of “abandoning the conservative movement.” McDaniel claimed that “there were literally dozens of irregularities reported all across the state” and hinted at litigation, saying, “Now it’s our job to make sure that the sanctity of the vote is upheld, before this race ends we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.” Breitbart New, which has served as the house organ of the McDaniel campaign, is reporting that the Mississippi state senator is considering a legal challenge of the results.
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