The biggest Republican primary of 2014 looks like it’s going into overtime.
Neither Sen. Thad Cochran nor his tea-party-backed primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, appeared able to secure the majority needed to win their party’s nomination in Mississippi on Tuesday night. That triggers a June 24 runoff, extending their nasty campaign — and the accompanying expensive barrage of television advertising.
With 94 percent of the vote counted, McDaniel was ahead of Cochran by about only 1,000 votes. A third candidate, little-noticed real-estate agent Thomas Carey, took just enough to play spoiler for both candidates.
But McDaniel’s team was confident on Tuesday night. He entered the race last October before Cochran had announced his reelection bid, and the state legislator quickly drummed up support from the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and an assortment of other conservative groups. Cochran was planning to retire toward the end of the primary, he told The Washington Post, but he answered pleas from establishment-minded supporters to run again as McDaniel and allies attacked him as a symbol of pork-barrel spending profligacy.
Not surprisingly for a race that became the preeminent showdown between the Republican establishment and the tea party, it attracted heavy spending from outside groups. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, they spent more than $8 million in the race, and more money will likely come in over the next few weeks as both sides try to keep their supporters engaged for the quick runoff. Cochran would be the first Republican senator to lose renomination this cycle, and his finishing below 50 percent in the initial primary won’t do anything to deter his opposition.
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday "heard several hours of oral arguments" over the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan rules. The 10-judge panel "focused much of their questioning on whether the EPA had overstepped its legal authority by seeking to broadly compel this shift away from coal, a move the EPA calls the Best System of Emission Reduction, or BSER. The states and companies suing the EPA argue the agency doesn’t have the authority to regulate anything outside of a power plant itself."
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Monday night's debate may have inspired some in Congress, as Senate Minority Leader has decided to take a stand of his own. Reid is declining to allow a vote on a "bipartisan bill that would bolster U.S. spectrum availability and the deployment of wireless broadband." Why? Because of a "broken promise" made a year ago by Republicans, who have refused to vote on confirmation for a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission to a second term. Harry Reid then took it a step further, invoking another confirmation vote still outstanding, that of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.