06.04.2014 0

Quick Analysis:  Mississippi Senate Primary Refuses to End

MS_primaryBy Rick Manning

Politicos across the nation have been eagerly watching the pitched battle in the Mississippi Republican Senate primary between long-time incumbent Thad Cochran and challenger state Senator Chris McDaniel, and it looks like they will get to watch it a little longer.

As of 5:39 am EDT, it appears a candidate who no one discussed, Thomas Carey, has thrown this race into a run-off.  With 99.5 percent of the precincts reporting, McDaniel holds a 49.6% to 48.9% lead over Cochran with Carey taking 1.6% of the vote.  In Mississippi, a candidate must exceed the 50 percent mark to win a primary, so  if the vote percentages hold, a run-off election in three weeks pitting the top two vote getters will be held.

After the past six weeks of blistering attacks, and arrests in one of the most bizarre and personally brutal primaries in recent memory, the 4,749 votes tallied by Carey might turn out to be the most important in the race as each candidate will now be forced to refocus efforts, extending their sprint to the finish for an endurance testing twenty one more days.

The national Republican backed Cochran should enjoy a money advantage in the extended sprint as those who gave the maximum in the primary can give again for the run-off, while McDaniel’s message may be more dependent upon the resources of groups like Club for Growth.

To McDaniel’s advantage, the additional three weeks pushes the focus of the race further away from the crazed blogger who became a campaign issue after it surfaced that he had gone paparazzi by breaking into Senator Cochran’s invalid wife’s hospital room to snap photos for his independent website.  Sympathy for the Senator over the incident stemmed the momentum McDaniel had gained turning the race back into a toss-up.

With three more weeks, Cochran will be increasingly forced to answer the basic question of what the heck he’s been doing in the Senate for the past 36 years.  The mistake prone Cochran has stumbled repeatedly when trying to explain why he was the best choice for the next six years while depending upon his legacy of “bringing home the bacon” to Mississippi for support.

It is that legacy that many McDaniel supporters question, as the value of pork politics is tested in the new tea party driven cut the government fat world.

For McDaniel, the more the run-off focuses upon the issues facing the nation, the more likely he will  come out on top.  As late spring turns to summer, it is going to be a steamy three weeks in the deep south.

Rick Manning is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government

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