The nasty, intraparty fight between Republicans Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel will go on for another three weeks.
Tuesday’s primary election results were so close that Cochran, the veteran U.S. senator and McDaniel, a state senator, will be forced to face off in a runoff race in three weeks.
Both men finished with 49 percent of the vote. In order to win a primary election outright, a candidate must get 50 percent of the vote plus one, according to state law.
Wednesday afternoon, Senator Cochran made a campaign stop at the Flowood Chick-fil-A in Rankin County. That could be seen as a battleground region for the runoff. Cochran narrowly defeated McDaniel in Rankin.
McDaniel hit the road for a stop on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he edged out Cochran in another possible battleground, Jackson County, which is home to the Ingalls shipyard. Over his four decades in the U.S. Senate, Cochran has helped steer millions of dollars in federal contracts to build ships at Ingalls, which has keep thousands employed with good paying jobs.
And Cochran’s influence helped the state get billions in federal aid to rebuild the coast after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region.
Mississippi College political science professor Glenn Antizzo tells us the 41 year-old McDaniel stands a good chance of winning the run-race off because his supporters are so motivated by his tea party message of smaller government and less spending.
Antizzo believes if Cochran wants a shot at serving a seventh term in the Senate, the 76 year-old veteran lawmaker has to get more engaged with voters.
“Cochran is just sort of disengaged he's not getting a lot of good advice on how to run the campaign you sort of come across since you've been there since the 1970s that you're entitled to the senateseat and that's not the way it is you have to work for the people's vote every single time,” Antizzo said.
“He can't count on people to remember how good he's been to the state. He needs to remind them over and over again that he's been there for Mississippi and that he wants to be there again.”
By some estimates, more than $10 million has already been spent in the battle between Cochran, McDaniel and outside groups running negative political TV commercial attacking each candidate.The primary runoff is June 24th.