POLITICS: PennAve

Mitch McConnell just took sides in this Republican primary

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Politics,Mitch McConnell,Mississippi,2014 Elections,Campaigns,PennAve,Rebecca Berg,Thad Cochran

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking sides in the Mississippi Senate primary run-off, continuing to actively help raise money for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., against his Tea Party challenger, Chris McDaniel.

McConnell will host a "run-off reception" benefiting Cochran, a six-term incumbent, on the evening of June 10 at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington.

In an email to party donors Friday, obtained by the Washington Examiner, McConnell warned that the outcome of the contest "will have a very real impact on our fight for the Majority," even though Mississippi is considered a Republican stronghold.

"Our friend Thad is in a battle in the coming weeks that will have a very real impact on our fight for the Majority," McConnell wrote. "You have helped all of us in the past, and we need your help for him now."

"It is critical that he has financial resources now, and we are going to make sure he has them," McConnell continued. "... We have been in this situation before and all of us know well from experience, this is no time to sit on the sidelines."

Indeed, McConnell recently trounced a Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin, on his own turf in Kentucky during a primary race last month, spending millions of dollars in the process.

But Cochran's situation is unique among Senate incumbents this year. Because Cochran fell short of 50 percent in the initial primary vote last week, the race with McDaniel will head to a run-off -- leaving both candidates with only a few weeks to raise more money and make their case before they face off again June 24.

The NRSC has promised to support Cochran in the second phase of his re-election bid, but some outside groups, such as Karl Rove's American Crossroads, have decided to forego spending money in the race to focus on battleground states.

A run-off is just the latest turn in a Senate race that has zig-zagged from wacky to zany. In a recent development, a McDaniel aide and two other supporters were found locked in a county courthouse in the wee hours after Election Night; a sheriff is investigating the incident.

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