The bitterly-fought Mississippi Republican Senate primary election
overshadowed other primary contests across the country. It was seen
as a multimillion-dollar referendum on the direction of the party as
it tries to win control of the U.S. Senate in the November
Cochran, 78, has steered hundreds of billions of federal dollars to
his impoverished state over a four-decade career in Congress, and
courthouses and research centers throughout the state bear his name.
McDaniel argued that Cochran's nuts-and-bolts approach is out of
step with voters in his deeply conservative state and promised to
take a more confrontational approach to President Barack Obama and
his Democratic allies in Washington.
Cochran won in part thanks to an unusual strategy of appealing to
the state's heavily Democratic African-American voters, who were
able to vote in the runoff as long as they had not voted in the June
4 Democratic primary.
It was the latest battle in a months-long primary season that has
pitted the party's business-friendly wing against Tea Party groups
that have pushed to slash federal spending.
Cochran edged McDaniel by fewer than 7,000 votes out of more than
370,000 cast - a dramatic increase over the 313,000 votes cast in
the earlier contest. "What we have tonight is a consensus for more
and better jobs for Mississippi workers," Cochran told supporters.
In a defiant speech, McDaniel did not concede the race and hinted at
possible legal action. "Before this race ends, we have to be
absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican
voters," McDaniel said.
Tea Party groups argued that Republicans should not rely on
Democratic voters and federal dollars to win elections.
"I think the GOP establishment just died tonight because it won’t be
winning a lot of national elections using this model,” said Matt
Kibbe of FreedomWorks, a conservative group that campaigned for
Business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $4 million
on Cochran's behalf, while small-government groups spent $7 million
Neither candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 4
primary, prompting a runoff election that drew millions of dollars
in outside spending.
Cochran argued that McDaniel would not be able to secure as many
resources for a state that relies on federal dollars for nearly half
of its state budget.
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Cochran is strongly favored to defeat Democrat Travis Childers in
the Nov. 4 election. Republicans need to pick up six seats to win
control of the 100-seat U.S. Senate, which would give them greater
leverage to oppose Obama's agenda during his remaining two years in
the White House.
Business groups have helped several high-profile Republican
incumbents beat back Tea Party challengers this year, but the
surprise defeat of House Republican Leader Eric Cantor by a
little-known candidate two weeks ago showed that clout in Washington
is no guarantee of victory back home.
"This has been a frustrating night for conservative insurgent
forces. There has been a lot of money spent and not much in the way
of results to show for it," said Kyle Kondik of the University of
Virginia's Center for Politics.
Elsewhere in the country, Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown moved closer
to becoming the third African-American governor in U.S. history
after he easily won a Maryland Democratic primary contest. He is
favored to win the November election in a state where Democratic
voters outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1. In Oklahoma,
Representative James Lankford defeated former state House Speaker
T.W. Shannon in a Republican Senate primary. He is expected to
defeat his Democratic opponent in November. In Colorado, former
Republican Representative Bob Beauprez will face incumbent
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper after defeating conservative
rivals in the Republican primary.
(Additional reporting by Nick Carey; Writing by Andy Sullivan in
Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell and Simon Cameron-Moore)
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