How ugly? Cochran, McDaniel will decide

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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It looks all but certain that Mississippi’s vicious Republican primary will continue for another three weeks. With just a few precincts uncounted, Tea Party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel was leading but still below the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a June 24 runoff with the incumbent, six-term Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran. Barring a huge trove of McDaniel votes from unlikely precincts, the race will go on. That’s not good news for Cochran who, as Molly Ball reported, has not exactly been burning up the campaign trail. Cochran’s best chance to win was with the unusually large turnout on Tuesday, including some number of crossover Democrats supporting the moderate Republican. A runoff will distill the electorate to its concentrated conservative elements, and McDaniel’s supporters will be out in force. So how bad is it going to be?

[Stick with Fox News, on air and online for the latest news on the Mississippi maulers.]

What now, NRSC? - The question for the National Republican Senatorial Committee: How far are you willing to go? The stakes are higher for in-state party elders, like the members of the Barbour family, against which this result is a direct challenge. For the leaders of the national GOP, though, how many millions of dollars do they wish to spend and how nasty do they wish to get in order to protect an incumbent that experience suggests will lose? The national and state GOP establishments have done a very effective job of calling McDaniel’s fitness for office into question. There’s more opposition research to be had on McDaniel and more character attacks to be made, and the next three weeks could be very ugly indeed. We know that McDaniel’s supporters will go to extreme lengths for their candidate and the campaign itself has not shied away from blowtorch negativity.

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Chris Stirewalt
FOX News