Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R) fended off the challenge of former state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a hotly-contested GOP primary late Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported.
Cochran, who never trailed throughout the night but saw his lead ebb and flow, ultimately gathered 50.6 percent of the vote to McDaniel’s 49.4 percent, just enough to avoid a second runoff. He will face Democratic Party candidate Travis Childers in November.
CNN reported that in the days before the runoff, Cochran’s campaign turned to Democrats and African-American voters for support against McDaniel, who ran with the backing of Tea Party Republicans.
For his part, McDaniel undermined Cochran’s conservative bonafides, painting himself as hewing closer to GOP ideals. The two faced off again after both failed to garner more than 50 percent to the vote during the June 4 primary election.
But McDaniel’s past as a conservative radio host also came to light in an unflattering manner, as his remarks about “homosexual churches,” moving to Mexico to avoid paying reparations for slavery, and describing libertarianism as a movement that was “all about hookers and blow” all became public knowledge.
McDaniel was also apparently intended to be the beneficiary of a plot last month to illicitly photograph Cochran’s wife, Rose Cochran, inside her nursing home. The photo was allegedly intended to be used in a “hit piece” video against Thad Cochran.
Among those arrested in connection with the plan were Clayton Thomas Kelly, who has written several pieces criticizing Cochran on his blog; state Tea Party vice chair Mark Mayfield, physical education teacher Richard Sager and John Beachman Mary, who worked alongside McDaniel on the Right Side radio show. Authorities said there was no connection between McDaniel’s campaign and the people arrested for trying to photograph Rose Cochran.