Speed Reads

2014 Watch

Mississippi GOP primary down to the wire — and possibly headed toward a runoff

Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

The hotly contested Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Mississippi now appears headed for yet another round — but quite possibly with some strong momentum for Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, against the longtime incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, McDaniel has 49.6 percent of the vote, against Cochran's 48.8 percent — and a little-known third candidate, Thomas Carey, has the remaining 1.6 percent. Under Mississippi law, if neither candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote in the primary, McDaniel and Cochran will head to a runoff election, which would be held just three weeks from now on June 24.

The winner of the Republican primary will face the Democratic nominee, former Congressman Travis Childers, who easily won his own primary. And though Mississippi is a solidly Republican state, there has been some speculation about whether the very fiery and controversial McDaniel might create an opening for Democrats.

In a display of continued energy for his campaign, McDaniel delivered a rip-roaring stump speech tonight to his supporters, in which he declared, among others things about Washington politicians: "For too long we let them have their way with us. Tonight in Mississippi, they heard us."

By contrast, Cochran did not deliver any statement at all to his own supporters.