Senate run-off likely in Mississippi


WASHINGTON (AP) — Locked in a race that won’t end, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party-backed
challenger Chris McDaniel pointed toward a possible June 24 run-off after battling to a near-draw
Tuesday in a primary that underscored Republican differences.
Unofficial returns from 98 percent of the state’s precincts showed McDaniel with slightly over 49 percent
of the vote in a three-way race and Cochran with slightly less. It takes a majority by one candidate to
avoid a run-off.
“For too long, we’ve been silent. For too long, we sat still. For too long, we let them have their way
with us,” McDaniel told supporters late Tuesday in a slap at the Washington establishment.
“It’s looking like a runoff,” conceded Rep. Gregg Harper, addressing a crowd of Cochran supporters.
The Mississippi contest easily overshadowed races in seven other states, several of which sent GOP
establishment-backed candidates into fall campaigns for Senate seats that Republicans have targeted in
their drive to gain six seats and a majority.
State Sen. Joni Ernst overwhelmed her rivals in Iowa, easily surpassing the 35 percent total needed to
win the nomination outright. She will take on Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley this fall for a Senate seat
long in Democratic hands.
In South Dakota, former Gov. Mike Rounds won the Republican nomination and quickly became a favorite to
win a seat held by retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson. Rick Weiland is the Democratic candidate in the
heavily Republican state.
And in Montana, appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh and Republican Rep. Steve Daines won nominations en
route to a fall campaign that the GOP is expected to target as an opportunity to gain a seat.
Mississippi officials said the vote tally in their state did not include provisional ballots, at least
some of them cast as a result of the state’s new voter ID law. Those voters have five days to furnish
proof of residence. An official canvass could take longer, until June 13.
The contest was a race between a pillar of the GOP establishment who has helped funnel millions of
dollars to his state and a younger state lawmaker who drew backing from tea party groups and former
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The incumbent stressed his seniority and proven
ability to help Mississippi, while his challenger called for term limits and a balanced budget amendment
to the Constitution.
The campaign took a turn toward the sensational when four men, all McDaniel supporters, were arrested and
charged with surreptitiously taking photographs of Cochran’s 72-year-old wife, who suffers from dementia
and has long lived in a nursing home.
The race was arguably the year’s last good chance for the tea party wing of the GOP to topple an
establishment favorite in a Senate primary, following losses in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and
The stakes in the overall struggle for control of the Senate loomed larger in Iowa, where Democratic Sen.
Tom Harkin’s retirement created an open seat that Democrat Braley, a fourth-term lawmaker, seeks to fill
— as does Ernst.
She fashioned her rise in the race on memorable television commercials.
“I grew up on an Iowa farm castrating hogs, so when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork,” she
said in one of them, concluding with a smile, “Let’s make ‘em squeal.” She was able to transcend many of
the intra-party divisions that flared in other races, gathering business groups, abortion foes, the
Senate Conservatives Fund and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — groups not always on the same side in a
season of struggle for the GOP.
Republicans eyed another fall pickup opportunity in South Dakota, where Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson is
retiring and Rounds easily eclipsed his rivals for the GOP nomination. Rick Weiland, making his third
try for a seat in Congress, was unopposed by other Democrats.
Democratic Sens. Tom Udall in New Mexico and Cory Booker in New Jersey also were nominated for new terms,
and head into the fall as favorites.
In gubernatorial primaries, Gov. Jerry Brown of California won the Democratic nomination to a fourth
term. Republican governors winning renomination included Robert Bentley in Alabama, Dennis Daugaard in
South Dakota and Terry Branstad in Iowa. Gov. Susana Martinez had no Republican primary opposition in
her pursuit of a second term in New Mexico.

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