Cochran Campaign Regroups for Republican Runoff in Mississippi

Thursday, 05 Jun 2014 06:33 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran is regrouping and forming a new campaign strategy for the June 24 runoff election that will decide who represents the GOP in the Senate race this fall.

Cochran, whose primary battle with Chris McDaniel ended in a close loss for the six-term senator, is now being forced to alter his plan in order to earn a spot on the November ballot. McDaniel earned 155,040 votes and Cochran garnered 153,654. But neither candidate won the required 50-plus percent of voters' support — the final tally was 49.6 percent to 48.8 percent — so the runoff was scheduled.

A Politico report, citing sources in the Cochran camp, says there will be less TV and radio advertising over the three-week campaign and more reaching out to fringe voters — independents, Democrats, and casual Republican voters. Aides told Politico the Cochran campaign will also encourage everyone to get out and vote.

All registered voters in the state, with the exception of those who participated in Tuesday's Democratic primary, will be allowed to vote on June 24.

Haley Barbour, who served as the governor of Mississippi from 2004-2012, told Politico the Cochran campaign will focus on the issues and try to change the minds of McDaniel's supporters.

"People are going to know the differences between Cochran and McDaniel on policy and one of the first ones is going to be federal spending on education," Barbour told Politico. "And I predict it will increase the number of people who vote in the run-off."

A lawyer, McDaniel has served in the Mississippi State Senate since 2008. Cochran, meanwhile, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978 and is the third most senior senator in Washington. He is the second most senior Republican in the Senate.

Lydia Chassaniol, McDaniel's colleague in the state Senate and a Cochran supporter, told Politico she believes more voters will turn out for the runoff election. The deciding factor, she said, will be provided by people who did not bother to vote in the primary because they thought Cochran would win.

"There are all sorts of people in Mississippi who are appreciative of Sen. Cochran's efforts over the years," Chassaniol said. "A lot of them probably thought he was going to walk back into office."

Cochran, who was initially unsure of whether or not he wanted to run for a seventh term, is now putting all of his weight behind his re-election effort.

"Sen. Cochran has dedicated his life to fighting for Mississippi and anybody that thinks he is going to stop now is mistaken," said Jordan Russell, a spokesman for the Cochran campaign, in the Politico story. "He is energized by the outpouring of support he has received today from all around the state and is excited about the campaign ahead."

McDaniel has made controversial remarks in the past — he reportedly threatened to leave the United States in lieu of paying reparations for slavery, for one — and would be a target for the left in the November election as Democrats try to take over the seat.

There is also talk of a potential debate between McDaniel and Cochran ahead of the runoff. There was no debate during the primary campaign.

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