Thad Cochran’s Seat In Peril With Chris McDaniel’s Edge

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and insurgent challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel were locked in a tight battle as the votes were being counted late into the night here in the marquee Republican Senate primary race of the night Tuesday.

The six-term incumbent faced the real possibility of being forced into a politically perilous run-off June 24 as the result could have a major impact on Republican hopes of recapturing the Senate in November.

To win the nomination outright, a candidate needed to secure 50 percent of the vote. With 86 percent of the precincts reporting late Tuesday evening, Mr. Cochran trailed with 48.4 percent to 50.0 percent for Mr. McDaniel, with a third candidate taking the rest.

Mr. Cochran’s supporters hoped the incumbent could hang on for an outright win, fearing that a runoff later this month would favor his tea party-backed opponent.

The winner of the runoff will face former Rep. Travis Childers, who easily won the Democratic nomination and could benefit from an extended battle on the Republican side.

Ford O’Connnell, a Washington-based GOP consultant, said that Mr. McDaniel sent a message with his strong showing.

“Cochran has thrown everything at McDaniel including the kitchen sink and there is no question McDaniel is standing his ground,” Mr. O’Connell said. “Without Rose-gate this might likely already be over, because it increased turnout.”

Mr. O’Connell also said that Democrats are looking to expand the map wherever they can and are more likely to invest in the race if Mr. McDaniel wins the race.

“They are going to look for every opportunity they can to try to force Republicans to pick up seven seats,” he said. “So they could start to marshal resources if McDaniel won, but it is still a long shot even if McDaniel is the nominee.”

Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times

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