It was the latest battleground in a nationwide struggle between establishment Republicans and conservative candidates: The tea party fought – and barely lost by just more than 1 percentage point – an all-out war to unseat a six-term GOP establishment senator in Mississippi’s runoff election Tuesday night.
In addition to Mississippi, the busy night included primary elections in Colorado, Maryland, Oklahoma, New York and Utah. South Carolina had a runoff for lieutenant governor, and Florida held a special election to fill a vacancy left by Republican Rep. Trey Radel. Colorado and Maryland selected gubernatorial candidates.
Mississippi – runoff
With 99 percent reporting, six-term GOP Sen. Thad Cochran led tea-party-backed State Sen. Chris McDaniel 50.8-49.2 percent in the Republican Senate runoff in Mississippi Tuesday.
The heated race attracted more than $12 million in outside spending.
According to a poll commissioned by Chism Strategies, McDaniel had been leading Cochran by eight points among likely GOP voters right before the runoff.
Cochran, 76, had been looking to Democrats and independents to boost turnout in the runoff election, where the number of votes is historically smaller than in primary elections. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., rallied with Cochran Monday.
Just before the runoff, Chism’s pollsters wrote, “Unless Cochran expands the electorate with general-election Republicans and crossover Democrats, McDaniel wins.”
The morning after the June 3 primary election, only about 1,500 and 3,000 votes kept McDaniel and Cochran, respectively, from winning the Republican nomination.
Should Cochran be re-elected, he’s expected to return to his position as Senate Appropriations Committee chairman if the GOP takes back the Senate in November.
Oklahoma – primary election
Republicans in Oklahoma voted for a nominee favored to succeed Sen. Tom Coburn, who announced his retirement. Two-term establishment Republican Rep. James Lankford fought off tea-party-backed former Oklahoma House of Representative Speaker and current state Rep. T.W. Shannon in the race.
Lankford had the support of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee while Shannon was backed by Sarah Palin, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who appeared in a pro-Shannon television ad.
Maryland – primary election
On Tuesday, Maryland voters went to the polls to nominate candidates for governor, attorney general and other state and local offices. Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, is prohibited from seeking a third consecutive term.
In the Republican gubernatorial primary, Anne Arundel County businessman Larry Hogan won the party’s nomination.
However, a Democrat is favored to win in November as Maryland’s Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1, and only one Republican has won the seat in the last 45 years. The state has also chosen Democrats in the last six presidential elections.
Democrat Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown won his party’s gubernatorial nomination. Brown was endorsed by former President Bill Clinton, Gov. O’Malley, and Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin. If Brown wins in November, he could be Maryland’s first black governor.
Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino secured the GOP nomination in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District against his opponent, little-known Harold Painter Jr. incumbent, John Delaney.
Colorado – primary election
In Colorado, four Republicans sought the nomination to challenge Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper, but Rep. Bob Beauprez ultimately won.
Former GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck won the Republican nomination for Colorado’s open U.S. House seat in the 4th Congressional District.
New York – primary election
The tea party had also hoped for an upset in New York’s 22nd congressional district, where many in the movement were fighting to unseat Republican Rep. Richard Hanna, who won the race with 52.8 percent of the vote. Claudia Tenney, a conservative member of the state Assembly, accused the two-term congressman of being too moderate. Tenney garnered 47.2 percent.
Also in New York, Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel – who has been in Congress since 1971 – faced a challenge from his own party amid allegations that he’s been too friendly with Wall Street. State Sen. Adriano Espaillat mounted a strong challenge, but Rangel won the Democratic nomination.
Florida – special election
Florida held a special election to fill the District 19 House vacancy left by Republican Rep. Trey Radel, who is reportedly seeking treatment for alcohol addiction and resigned after he was convicted of cocaine possession in 2013.
Pro-life Republican Curtis Clawson won the election after successfully campaigning against Democrat April Freeman, libertarian Ray Netherwood and write-in candidate Timothy Rossano.
South Carolina – runoff
South Carolina held runoffs for the positions of lieutenant governor and superintendent. In the Republican primary for the lieutenant governor race, Henry McMaster won his race against Mike Campbell.
For the education superintendent seat, Tom Thompson secured the Democratic Party nomination in his runoff against Sheila Gallagher. Molly Mitchell Spearman edged ahead of Sally Atwater for the Republican nomination.
Utah – primary election
In Utah, candidates for the states four seats in Congress were decided at party conventions in April. The state held primary elections for seven state legislative races.
WND will post election and runoff results as they come in.