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Senate candidate Chris McDaniel; campaign image
Chris McDaniel
One of this primary season's big showdowns between the Republican establishment and the tea party appears headed for a runoff. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, tea partier Chris McDaniel had a slim lead over incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran, but had not cracked the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. A low-turnout runoff, to be held June 24, is expected to benefit McDaniel. This leaves said Republican establishment with a dilemma:
... what does the National Republican Senatorial Committee do in the runoff? In the original primary, not only was it backing the incumbent Cochran, it also went for the kill against McDaniel -- helping to turn those arrests [when McDaniel backers photographed Cochran's wife in her nursing home] into a national story. We bet the folks at the NRSC are doing some polling right now to see how electable, or unelectable, McDaniel could be in a general election.
The runoff campaign will be short, but given the tenor of the campaign so far, it can be expected to be bitter. Additionally, the national press has started sinking its teeth into questions about Cochran's age. There's no way Mississippi is anything but a really, really, really long shot for Democrats, but Dems do have a solid candidate in former Rep. Travis Childers, and Republicans could end up with a tea party candidate they never wanted or the candidate they want, but damaged by a bruising primary.

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Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Elections and Daily Kos.

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