Outside conservative groups are expressing jubilation that Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel won more votes than incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary in Mississippi, forcing a run-off later this month in the highly-charged contest.
The subject line of an email sent to supporters by the Tea Party Express on Wednesday read: “VICTORY: Huge Wins For The Tea Party.”
“Senator Chris McDaniel delivered a bold conservative vision to the voters of Mississippi and the result was an unstoppable grassroots insurgency,” the group said in the email. “We’ve seen this time and time again- voters want leadership and they want solutions, and that’s why Senator McDaniel was successful tonight.”
McDaniel on Tuesday won about 49.5 percent of the vote to Cochran’s 48.9 percent, according to initial returns. Because no candidate received 50 percent under state law, voters will go to the polls again on June 24.
The influential Club for Growth PAC, which poured money into the race in support of McDaniel, says Cochran should drop out.
“Senator Cochran has had five decades in Washington and it’s clear that six more years of the same won’t have any impact on the direction of our country,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “He should do the honorable thing and decline to contest the runoff. Should he choose to persist, the Club for Growth PAC and conservatives throughout Mississippi will vigorously pursue this race to its conclusion, and we will look forward to the election of Senator Chris McDaniel.”
Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund said Wednesday of McDaniel: “With all this momentum, I like his chances in three weeks.”
“Obviously, total victory was the preferred outcome, but what a showing by Chris McDaniel,” Martin said. “He was written off by the media and attacked by the establishment, yet here he stands on the cusp of making history.
FreedomWorks for America president Matt Kibbe said his group will “double down on our efforts to support the grassroots ground game in Mississippi to make sure Chris McDaniel defeats Thad Cochran in a runoff.”
“The candidate with the strongest ground game has a clear advantage in a runoff scenario,” he said. “When Ted Cruz upset David Dewhurst in the Texas GOP Senate primary in 2012, Dewhurst carried 44.6 percent of the primary vote to Cruz’s 34.2 percent. Cruz continued on to sweep the runoff with 56.8 percent to Dewhurst’s 43.2 percent. Grassroots shows up when it counts.”
Meanwhile,the National Republican Senatorial Committee — the campaign arm of the Senate GOP that has strongly supported Cochran — vows to continue supporting the incumbent.
“Should Mississippi go to a runoff, we will expect a vigorous debate about the future of our country over the next three weeks and we will continue to fully support Thad Cochran,” executive director Rob Collins said. “We look forward to him emerging victorious in the runoff.”