Cochran - McDaniel headed for runoff
With neither candidate able to crack 50% in the Mississippi GOP Senate primary, it appears likely that there will be a June 24 runoff to determine the winner of the contest between incumbent Senator Thad Cochran and Tea Party favoirte, state senator Chris McDaniel.
With 97% of the precincts reporting this morning, Cochran has 49.6% of the vote while McDaniel has 48.9%. With only a few thousand votes left to count, it seems likely that a runoff is in the offing.
This is the worst possible scenario for the GOP, as more millions of dollars will be poured into the runoff - cash that would be much better spent in the general election against Democratic winner, former Rep. Travis Childers. There is also the damage that both candidates have inflicted on each other in what is easily the dirtiest campaign of the season.
The race turned out to be a lot closer than some analysts predicted, as McDaniel was seen to have the momentum and the enthusiasm of his supporters going for him the last few weeks of the campaign. Cochran's weekend ad blitz probably helped solidify his support, although it wasn't enough to put him over the top.
Elsewhere, state senator Joni Ernst easily won the GOP nomination for Senator in Iowa., getting more than 56% of the vote in a crowded field. Ernst is supported by both the Tea Party and the establishment in the state, which gives her a fighting chance against the Democratic winner Rep. Bruce Braley, who ran uncontested - very unusual for an open Senate seat.
In Montana, Democrat John Walsh won his party's nomination for Senate, and Steve Daines won the GOP primary.
In New Jersey, former Washington policy analyst Jeff Bell won a tight GOP primary, narrowly defeating computer consultant Richard Puzzollo.
The other two Republicans running in the low-budget primary were concrete contractor Brian Goldberg and business professor Murray Sabrin. Bell will in November face incumbent Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, who is considered a heavy favorite.
In New Mexico, former state GOP chairman Allan Weh won the party primary and will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Tom Udall in the fall.
In South Dakota, former Gov. Mike Rounds won the GOP primary and enters the November race as the favored to win the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson. He will face Democrat Rick Weiland, who ran unopposed.
Democrats fielded no candidates in Alabama to oppose GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was renominated without primary competition.
None of these results were a surprise, with the possible exception of Ernst's dominant win in Iowa. As for Mississippi, it would take a monumental effort - and some luck - for Democrat Childers to win in November. He is not well known in the state, has only $51,000 on hand at last report, and is too much of an independent for most Democrats to stomach. He's anti-gay marriage, pro-life, pro-gun, and thinks government is too big. He would need tons of outside money to compete and with stands on issues like that, he isn't likely to get it.