Mississippi Senate race heats up

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — Change seems to be the new watchword for the super-close U.S. Senate race in Mississippi.

It comes after a tea party-backed candidate in Virginia beat one of the top Republicans in Congress in Tuesday’s primary there.

Supporters of Mississippi challenger Chris McDaniel say they’re more energized.

”I think people are tired of hearing that we need change and they’re looking for ways to produce the change,” Mississippi State Senator David Parker, a McDaniel supporter, said.

In fact, that’s reflected in McDaniel’s new ad, just out this week.

But supporters of longtime incumbent Thad Cochran have ramped up their campaign ads, too.

His DeSoto County campaign chairman refused comment on the race, but other supporters and Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson say Cochran has brought plenty of change, big and small.

”You can find I-269, you can find I-69, you can find a regional sewer plant, you can find a traffic signal at Commerce and McInvale in Hernando that was built with federal dollars.”

Dollars Cochran managed to get.

While lots of people point to the Virginia race and talk about its implications for the coming runoff in Mississippi, others with more experience say it’s more likely Mississippi’s razor-thin primary was a warning shot for the Virginia race.

”I think Virginia should have been watching us and being a little more vigilant,” said Johnson.

But that’s not stopping the candidates from using Virginia as a rallying cry.

A McDaniel fundraising letter out Wednesday speaks of beating Eric Cantor in Virginia.

”This is not really what I would call a tea party movement. It’s a conservative movement. Conservatives are united in the desire for change in government,” said Parker.

Still other observers say we could be witnessing the first signs of a shift in the Republican party.

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