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 protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline turned violent overnight as the police and National Guard sought to remove the protesters, surrounding them with assault vehicles and officers in riot gear. The law enforcement officers used pepper spray and fired bean bags for more than six hours. In response, the protesters "lit debris on fire and threw Molotov cocktails in retreat." One woman pulled out a gun and fired at officers, narrowly missing before being arrested. The protesters claim the pipeline would be constructed on land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The House has scheduled leadership votes for Nov. 15, the day after members return from their election recess. "Since mid-September, members of the House Freedom Caucus have weighed whether they should ask leadership to push back the elections so they can see how House Speaker Paul Ryan performs at the end of the year," but leaders don't seem inclined to grant their request.
Gross domestic product "expanded at a 2.9% annual clip from July through September. That’s a marked improvement from the first half of the year when the U.S. grew just barely over 1%." The robust numbers make it more likely that the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates at its next meeting.
"A federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility." In a strange "coda" to the decision, Bundy's attorney Marcus Mumford was tackled and tasered by marshals in the courtroom as he argued that Bundy should be free to go.
Hillary Clinton is eyeing Vice President Joe Biden to be her secretary of state, and her campaign is trying to figure out the best way to broach the idea with Biden. Biden has a lifetime of foreign policy experience, serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; he can also put eight years as vice president on his foreign policy resume. Biden has previously stated that he would not work in a Clinton administration, so it might be a tough sell for the Clinton camp.