Democrats are looking for a boost after Mississippi’s vicious Republican primary battle between Sen. Thad Cochran, the establishment candidate, and his tea party challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, The New York Times
The men will face a run-off election June 24 because neither received 50 percent of the vote in this week’s primary. Cochran, a six-term incumbent, trailed McDaniel by 1,386 votes, according to the Times.
The results excited Democrats, who would much prefer running their candidate, former Rep. Travis Childers, against McDaniel, a lawyer known for controversial remarks. Childers is known as a conservative Democrat.
According to the Times, McDaniel once "threatened to leave the country rather than pay reparations for slavery and described trying to pick up Mexican women by calling them 'mamacitas.' He once dismissed a controversy over a wrestling video game in which a white woman holds down a black woman by shrugging, 'Well, she wasn’t holding down a gay guy.'"
While a Democratic victory would be a long shot in the general election, according to the Times, Democratic strategists would seize the opportunity to draw national attention to McDaniel’s views, much in the same way they did in 2012 when then Missouri Rep. Todd Akin told a journalist that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant. Akin lost his bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill.
GOP insiders have privately lamented Cochran’s "lackluster campaign," according to the Los Angeles Times
, but will continue to pour resources into it in order to ensure the seat remains red.
The LA Times reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more than $500,000 in the primary and the National Republican Senatorial Committee is also in Cochran’s corner.
Electing a Democrat is considered highly unlikely – it has been decades since the party held the seat – but Republicans are worried that should McDaniel be their candidate, it has the potential to not only hurt the party in Mississippi, but have a ripple effect across the country.
"Candidates who associate with white nationalists & segregationists events give away #GOP seats to Democrats," National Republican Senatorial Committee Spokesman Brad Dayspring posted on Twitter about Mr. McDaniel, according to the Times.
The Magnolia State’s former Democratic Gov. William Winter, agreed.
"It would confirm the worst stereotypes about Mississippi," he told The New York Times.
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