POLITICS: Campaigns

Primary Watch: Judgment day in Mississippi; the end of Charlie Rangel?

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Colorado,Mississippi,Oklahoma,2014 Elections,Campaigns,James Lankford,Haley Barbour,Thad Cochran,Charlie Rangel,Becket Adams

Voters in New York, Maryland, Oklahoma, Colorado and Utah will nominate yet another batch of candidates for the Nov. 4 elections on Tuesday.

A special election will also be held in Florida, and there are primary runoffs in South Carolina and Mississippi.

Primary races in New York, Oklahoma and Colorado could have interesting national implications, and the hotly-contested runoff election in Mississippi is a must-watch.

Mississippi

After months of bitter fighting, mudslinging and bad blood between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who was first elected to Congress in 1972, and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Republicans in the Magnolia State will decide Tuesday who they want to represent them in November.

McDaniel currently leads in the polls with 49.3 percent to Cochran's 43.0 percent, according to the latest data from Real Clear Politics.

The battle is being viewed as the latest in the long and bitter feud between the Tea Party, which backs McDaniel, and the so-called GOP establishment, which strongly endorses Cochran.

Self-described Tea Party types, including radio host Chuck Woolery and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have come out in support for McDaniel. Meanwhile, Cochran's campaign has highlighted a recent Chamber of Commerce-funded ad featuring NFL legend Brett Favre.

“Thad Cochran always delivers, just like he did during Katrina,” the football player said in the ad.

Further, former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is well-known for ability to get out the vote, has endorsed Cochran.

“We are not going to let a bunch of people from Washington or New York dictate who represents Mississippi in the U.S. Senate,” Barbour said, his PAC adding that a McDaniel victory would be “embarrassing” for the state.

Both campaigns have so far spent a combined total of approximately $15 million in the race, making it one of the most expensive 2014 primary elections in the country.

Tuesday’s run-off election is the result of both candidates failing on June 3 to cross the 50 percent threshold required to claim victory. McDaniel narrowly won the first round, with 49.5 percent of the vote to Cochran’s 49 percent, and it looks like Tuesday will be another close call.

In the event Cochran loses, according to ABC News, Democrats will likely run former Rep. Travis Childers in November.

New York

Could this be the end of Rep. Charlie Rangel, the embattled Democrat from New York City's 13th district?

It’s a possibility.

The 84-year-old representative, who has long been dogged by numerous scandals involving alleged ethics violations, is running for re-election in Harlem against his 2012 challenger, Dominican-American State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, and Rev. Michael Walrond Jr.

Rangel, who is going into Tuesday night without an endorsement from President Obama, is dealing with the reality of shifting demographics in his district. Harlem, which has traditionally been mostly African-American, is now home to a large Hispanic community, which could mean victory for Espaillat.

Should Espaillat win on Tuesday, he could “also be the first Dominican-born member of Congress,” according to ABC News.

And this looks like it could actually happen. Remember: Rangel defeated Espaillat by only 1,000 votes in 2012.

Oklahoma

The race in Oklahoma, which involves candidates fighting over a seat soon to be vacated by outgoing Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, has all the markings of a Tea Party vs. GOP establishment fight.

On the one hand, you have 36-year-old Oklahoma state Rep. T.W. Shannon, who has the backing of Palin and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

“He was the first African-American (he is also part native American) and youngest Speaker of the Oklahoma House and there is no doubt no matter what happens today he will have a long career in the party, with allies in both the establishment and tea party,” ABC News notes.

And then there's 46-year-old Rep. James Lankford, who was first swept into office in 2010 on the Tea Party “red wave" and has the support of the so-called "establishment."

Lankford leads Shannon is most polls, according to data compiled by Real Clear Politics.

However, if neither Lankford nor Shannon, the primary frontrunners, managed to clear 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, the Oklahoma GOP senate primary will head to an Aug. 26 runoff.

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe is seeking another term in office and he also faces a few primary challengers. However, he’s viewed as the heavy favorite in that race.

Colorado

This Republican gubernatorial primary in Colorado could have implications for the national discussion on immigration reform.

There are currently four Republican candidates vying for the chance to take on incumbent Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who is unapologetic in his stance against illegal immigration and Obama, has managed to capture headlines and may actually have a shot at besting his three opponents Tuesday night.

Tancredo has also thrown his support behind marijuana legalization.

Meanwhile, the more “establishment” wing of the GOP has offered support for former Rep. Bob Beauprez, who is far less of a firebrand than Tancredo.

But many analysts don't expect that Beauprez will pull it off Tuesday. If Tancredo is the victor, he will go up against an increasingly unpopular but better-polling Democratic incumbent.

Hickenlooper currently holds a 10.2-percentage point lead over Tancredo, according to the Real Clear Politics average.

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