Democrats and former NFL star Brett Favre likely pushed Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran to a narrow victory over tea party challenger Chris McDaniel in a heated runoff, political strategist Matt Towery told Newsmax TV’s
"America's Forum" on Wednesday.
Numerous polls had shown McDaniel as the favorite to take the seat from the 36-year incumbent in a race that went to a runoff after neither candidate secured 50 percent of the vote in the June 3 primary.
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"In Mississippi, what they're saying primarily is that the Favre commercial really ignited this campaign," said Towery, a former Georgia politician and CEO and publisher of InsiderAdvantageGeorgia.
"Cochran looked like he was tired. In some interviews, he seemed to sort of be out of it a little bit in what he had to say. They're really picking on that, but then at the last second with this Favre commercial coming in, and an effort to bring in Democrats who wanted to hold onto that power that Mississippi enjoys with such a high-ranking senator, even on the Republican side. It all came together to get Thad Cochran just enough votes."
With Cochran, 76, sinking in the polls, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored ads featuring football legend and Mississippi native Favre, a former Green Bay Packers quarterback.
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott also went to bat for Cochran. But it looks like Favre and Democrats – Mississippi has an open primary – made the difference, Towery said.
McDaniel had the backing of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
50.8 percent of the vote to McDaniel's 49.2 percent. He will face Democratic former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers in November.
Towery said that aside from the shocking defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by tea party candidate Dave Brat, the establishment GOP will likely stave off any further losses at the polls. And ultimately, he predicted, tea partiers, including McDaniel, will back the establishment candidates come November.
"What's the alternative?" he asked. "To support a Democrat, sit on your hands, and let the state go Democrat?"
He also predicted Cochran will sail to victory in the midterms, explaining that Barbour, Lott, and Cochran are masters at putting together coalitions after both sides recover from "bruised feelings."
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