2014 Election

Candidates in Mississippi’s Republican Runoff Are Making A Final Push

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 Jun 2014 02:23 p.m.

Tuesday is a big day for Mississippi voters heading back to the polls to try again to pick a winner in the Republican Senate primary. Incumbent Senator Thad Cochran and state senator Chris McDaniel are the only two candidates left in a runoff election. In the final efforts to drive up support for Cochran, the campaign brought out some of its most high profile supporters. 

"Ladies and gentleman the United State Senator from Mississippi Thad Cochran," said Governor Phil Bryant as he introduced incumbent Senator Thad Cochran to a cheering crowd at the war memorial in Jackson. 

Bryant was just one of a list of high profile politicians who appeared on stage at the War memorial including Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, third district congressman Greg Harper, Senator Roger Wicker and Arizona Senator John McCain.

 Surrounded by military veterans, McCain said Cochran's support of the many military bases in Mississippi is the key reason to support him. 

"You have a friend in Washington and I have a friend in Washington. A man of distinction, of service, honor and integrity. A man we must send back to Washington," McCain said.

 Cochran is in line to chair the appropriations Committee should the Republicans re-take the Senate, which is a credential he has repeatedly tried to make clear. 

"I think the experience that comes with service on the defense appropriation committee where we analyze the budget request of the president for funding of our Department of Defense and all the related activities coming under their jurisdiction. And I think that experience is a very strong asset," Cochran said.

 Third District Congressman Greg Harper said the mood of the run off has changed completely compared to the primary election which Cochran nearly lost.

 "What I am encouraged by is what I have seen on the ground for Senator Cochran in the last week to ten days. It’s a complete change from what I saw before the primary. And the momentum clearly is with Senator Cochran," Harper said. 

Cochran's campaign has tried to broaden its base reaching out to black voters and re-energize apathetic supporters who didn’t vote in the first primary.

At the McDaniel Campaign supporters of state Senator Chris McDaniel stand next to a busy road on the outskirts of Jackson carrying signs and yelling at passing cars; hoping to attract attention to one of their candidate's final campaign stops.

Todd Macko of Brandon says he joined the rally because he believes this election is too important to sit around and watch from the sidelines.

"We feel that this is a big deal and that it sends a very important message to Washington." says Macko. "I believe him when he tells me that he is un-lobbyable. I believe when he says he'll go to Washington and that we won't do the backroom deals and that he will take the constitution as the playbook for his tenure in office."

While polling conducted by various conservative groups show that McDaniel commands a lead over incumbent Senator Thad Cochran the candidate isn't taking any chances.

Speaking to supporters, McDaniel says the only way to change the status quo in Washington is to vote for him.

"We're tired of the backroom deals." McDaniel says. "We're tired of the business as usual. We're tired of the favoritism. We're tired of the cronyism. We're going to remind them once-and-for-all that they work for us."

McDaniel also took a shot at his opponent for trying to garner the support of Mississippi democrats. He says it's further proof that Cochran has become too liberal for average, conservative Mississippians.

"Senator Cochran has showed his true colors." McDaniel says. "We knew him to be a liberal Republican. By reaching out to liberal Democrats he has confirmed what we've always known that he doesn't have our best interests at heart. The Conservative Movement needs a champion, someone that will fight, someone that will be courageous. Not someone that will surrender."

Both Cochran and McDaniel will spend the rest of the day crisscrossing the state hoping to get the support of last-minute, undecided voters.