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Greg BluesteinJim Galloway

Mississippi cage match: Tea party’s Chris McDaniel pulls Thad Cochran into runoff

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McDaniel

Chris McDaniel promises a victory to a late night audience Tuesday at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, Miss. McDaniel and six-term Sen. Thad Cochran dueled inconclusively in Mississippi’s primary. AP/George Clark

Tea partyers pulled one out of the fire in Mississippi on Tuesday. From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Locked in a race that won’t end, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel pointed toward a possible June 24 runoff after battling to a near-draw Tuesday in a primary that underscored Republican differences.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogUnofficial returns from 98 percent of the state’s precincts showed McDaniel with slightly over 49 percent of the vote in a three-way race and Cochran with slightly less. It takes a majority by one candidate to avoid a runoff.

“For too long, we’ve been silent. For too long, we sat still. For too long, we let them have their way with us,” McDaniel told supporters late Tuesday in a slap at the Washington establishment.

“It’s looking like a runoff,” conceded Rep. Gregg Harper, addressing a crowd of Cochran supporters.

Mississippi officials said the vote tally in their state did not include provisional ballots, at least some of them cast as a result of the state’s new voter ID law. Those voters have five days to furnish proof of residence. An official canvass could take longer, until June 13.

The race was arguably the year’s last good chance for the tea party wing of the GOP to topple an establishment favorite in a Senate primary, following losses in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky.

***

At the Strand Theater on the Marietta Square this morning, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston will receive the endorsement of his GOP congressional colleague Phil Gingrey for the U.S. Senate runoff.

In an interview with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant on WGAU (1340AM) this morning, runoff rival David Perdue took the news well:

“We’re very comfortable with what’s going on. We’re not surprised, actually. Nor should anybody be. But, yeah, I think it solidifies our position as the outsider.”

Nor is Perdue troubled by those – including Karen Handel – who point to Kingston’s congressional experience as a deal-breaker. Said the former Dollar General CEO:

“If I were to ask you both to name 10 U.S. senators, I promise you that two-thirds of them would be first- or second-term senators. There’s a growing group of people up there trying to do the right thing, even if it means they don’t get re-elected. That’s the kind of senator I want to be.”

And about his demand that Kingston release his tax returns:

“Congressman Kingston, actually committed to do that in the primary, and yet we went all the way through and never saw it…I think the people of Georgia deserve to see 10 years of his tax returns. He’s been living off taxpayers for the last 22 years. I think putting up 10 years of tax returns is the least he could do.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush headlined a fundraiser for Nathan Deal's election campaign.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush headlined a fundraiser for Nathan Deal’s election campaign.

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Gov. Nathan Deal has spent part of this spring restocking his campaign coffers, and he got major help on Tuesday.

Jeb Bush, Florida’s ex-governor and a potential 2016 presidential contender, headlined a fundraiser for Deal that we’re told raised well in the six-figure range for his re-election bid.

Bush, for his part, added a second endorsement from his Twitter account later in the day:

jebbushtweet

***

Earlier this week, former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, who carried Cobb County by 27 votes in the primary, won the endorsement of Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin in the GOP runoff for the 11th District congressional race.

Which caused former congressman Bob Barr, his runoff rival, to pull a mayoral endorsement out of his pocket on Tuesday.  Or rather, an endorsement from a former Marietta mayor – Bill Dunaway.

“I have known Bob for many years, and he has consistently been a champion for Marietta and Cobb County,” sayeth Dunaway, via press release.

***

The Clayton News-Daily reports that Fulton County prosecutors have dropped a 2011 DUI case against former Clayton County Commissioner Wole Ralph, who now works for the city of Atlanta:

[Ralph, then vice-chairman,] was charged with DUI, obstruction of an officer, misdemeanor reckless driving and failure to maintain lane in a Feb. 19, 2011, incident on Metropolitan Parkway.

According to records obtained by Clayton News Daily, Ralph pleaded guilty in Fulton State Court to failure to maintain lane. The rest of the charges were dropped.

He was sentenced to 12 months’ probation, with credit for one day served at the time of his arrest. Ralph was also ordered to undergo alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment, and pay a $1,000 fine.

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