And McDaniel Officially Head To Mississippi Senate Runoff
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[June 05, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Thad
Cochran and Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel on Wednesday formally
headed to a Republican Senate primary runoff in Mississippi, launching
what is expected to be an expensive and bitter three-week campaign
With all precincts counted in Tuesday's primary, both candidates
fell just short of the 50 percent needed for victory. McDaniel had
49.5 percent of the vote to Cochran's 49 percent, giving him a
nearly 1,400-vote edge out of more than 310,000 cast.
A little known third candidate, Thomas Carey, drew 1.5 percent of
the vote, keeping one of the two leaders from a clear win.
The result followed a contentious primary battle that gave
conservative Tea Party activists their best chance for an upset of
an incumbent senator after a string of high-profile primary losses
Outside conservative groups spent more than $5 million to back
McDaniel in the primary and pledged to keep it up in the June 24
runoff, while many of Cochran's business-friendly establishment
backers also promised to stay involved.
The runoff will be a test for Cochran, 76, a six-term senator who
has not faced a tough re-election battle in decades. If he loses,
Cochran will be the first incumbent U.S. senator unseated in a
primary this year.
The first place finish by McDaniel, a state senator, was "a clear
sign of the groundswell of energy behind his campaign to bring a
true conservative agenda to Washington," said Noel Fritsch, a
spokesman for McDaniel.
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The race was dominated in the closing stretch by a controversy
involving a local blogger who snuck into a nursing home to
photograph Cochran's bedridden wife, who suffers from dementia.
McDaniel's campaign denied any involvement, but four of his
supporters face criminal charges in the incident.
(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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