Cochran narrowly defeats McDaniel in runoff

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JACKSON, Miss. — Incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran narrowly defeated challenger Chris McDaniel in the Mississippi Republican Senate runoff.

McDaniel easily won in DeSoto County with close to 70% of the vote.

After coming in second in the June 3 primary, Cochran held more than a 6,000-vote lead according to numbers compiled by the Associated Press.

Cochran will face former north Mississippi Democratic congressman Travis Childers in November.

McDaniel called out Cochran for mobilizing Democrats to vote in the GOP primary.

"There is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary decided by liberal Democrats," the state senator told supporters. "I guess they can take some consolation that they did something tonight, for once again compromising, for once again reaching across the aisle, for abandoning the conservative movement."

Mississippi has no recount provisions in its election laws. The only challenge to election results must go through the courts.
And McDaniel hinted that's a possibility late Tuesday.

"We were right tonight. We were right tonight," he said. "Now it's our job to make sure that the sanctity of the vote is upheld. We have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters."

When asked early Wednesday morning whether they would challenge the results in court, the McDaniel campaign gave CNN a two word answer: "stay tuned."

Mississippi law allows anyone to vote in the runoff, meaning Democrats could go to the polls as long as they hadn't voted in the Democratic primary and didn't plan to vote for their party's candidate in the general election. By CNN's count, about 55,000 more people voted Tuesday than in the primary two weeks ago.

Cochran's backers turned to Democrats, especially African-Americans, who make up 37% of the state's population.

They actively reminded voters of the senator's work to secure federal funds for programs such as Head Start and certain medical centers in the state.

But McDaniel and allies argued the tactic was a stretch, and he said a high Democratic turnout for Cochran would reveal the senator's true colors.

Conservative groups supportive of McDaniel dispatched volunteers to observe poll workers to see if they were turning away those who already showed up in the Democratic primary.

But those efforts mobilized groups such as the NAACP, which sent out its own volunteers to look for any signs of voter intimidation or interference.

In his victory speech, Cochran seemed to at least wink at the crossover voters, thanking supporters for getting them and his supporters to the polls.

"You are the ones who helped reach all the voters, make sure that they knew that they were important to this election because it's a group effort, it's not a solo," he told a victory celebration in Jackson. "And so we all have a right to be proud of our state tonight. Thank you for this wonderful honor and wonderful challenge that lies ahead."

McDaniel outpolled Cochran by about 1,400 votes in the June 3 primary but was forced into a runoff when he failed to cross the 50% threshold to win outright.

On June 4th, neither Cochran nor McDaniel received more than 50 percent of the votes. Supporters of both blamed low voter turnout for sending them to a runoff.

WREG's Jessica Gertler was in DeSoto County, where poll workers said there was a bigger turnout than when Cochran and McDaniel went head-to-head earlier this month.

The contest between the two has been closely watched, since the latter is a tea party member and Cochran has held onto his seat for 42 years.

Leading up to the primary, both ran attack ads.

Some even say the race for this U.S. Senate seat has been one of the nastiest campaign battles in history.

The race took a major turn when four McDaniel supporters were charged with felonies for trying to take a picture of Cochran’s wife, who is in a nursing home and suffers from dementia.

Monday, a field worker for the Cochran campaign was fired for allegedly stealing McDaniel signs. Lee Blair was arrested for malicious mischief and will be in court later this week.



    • Rick

      Thad will not be going to Washington in November. The tea party is going to write in Chris in November and the Democrat Party candidate will win.

      Good fight Thad, you won the battle only to ensure you loose the war.

    • Major Bubba

      What Old stereotypes do you refer to. You try so hard to insult people from Mississippi that you try and spin anything you find. If there is an insult there just try and be more specific. How in the world could a win by a corrupt RHINO be any kind of reference to Old Stereotypes of Mississippi. He urged Liberals to vote for him so he could beat out a true conservative, that says it all.

  • jr

    did you vote in the Dem primary ? if u did n you voted today then you broke the law. thats the only way thad was gona win. the dem in repub sheets had to ask dems to help him. long live the tea party.

  • Mary

    Will be writing in McDaniel in Nov. Also you didn’t mention he did not concede. Guess that wasn’t worth mentioning . The McDaniel campaign did not run smear ads, they ran the facts, but you never bother to check things out. You just go with the liberal agenda.

  • DontDreamItsOver

    And now we Mississippians get more of the same. This should open a lot of eyes for voters on where Cochran really stands. He is RINO, Republican in name only and now the people see that, but he won, so it’s of little comfort.

    Chris you put up a nice fight and I voted for ya, on to the next battle!

  • I haven't seen it all yet

    What more proof does one need that our political system is corrupt to the core? A republican recruiting democrats to vote in the Republican Primary. Every time I think I have seen everything these crooks pull another rabbit out of the hat. I would want a recount in the largest counties and an audit of crossover voters. Hiring Dem operatives, the governor, Haley Barbour, John McCain, Brett Favre, and every other circus performer he could round up. This is the establishment against the people and look what it took for the establishment to lead in this race. People who voted for Thad should be ashamed of themselves and for being a part of this sham of an election. Bring home that pork and run up that deficit/debt Thad and then let the children pay for it.

  • jr

    i guess ill be doing a write in for Chris. thad the tactics you used show you only want to keep the job. isnt 41 years enough..if you aint fixed it by now you are not going to.

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