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July 25, 2014

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June 25, 2014

How James Lankford Won Big in Oklahoma (Video)

How James Lankford Won Big in Oklahoma (Video)

Lankford will likely come to the Senate next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James Lankford had momentum on his side Tuesday, when the Republican captured the GOP nomination outright and avoided a costly runoff.

The big surprise? His massive 23-point margin of victory over T.W. Shannon, who had been hailed as a rising GOP superstar.

Shannon, 36, was the youngest person to ever serve as Speaker of the Oklahoma House. He is African-American, an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, and had the support of many of the big national tea party names, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. On paper, Shannon seemed like he might follow in the footsteps of another Cruz-backed candidate, Ben Sasse, the 42-year-old GOP Senate nominee in Nebraska who rose from relative obscurity to beat the front-runner with the help of national tea party groups.

But Lankford had a number of advantages from the start in the race to succeed Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is leaving Congress at the end of this year.

Full story

June 24, 2014

Mississippi Runoff Results: Thad Cochran Wins

Mississippi Runoff Results: Thad Cochran Wins

Cochran won a runoff Tuesday and is favored to win a seventh term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran overcame the odds Tuesday to win a contentious Republican runoff and is now favored to win a seventh term.

Two weeks after the stunning loss by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., state Sen. Chris McDaniel hoped to become the latest challenger to unseat a sitting member of Congress in a GOP primary.

But, after finishing 1,400 votes behind McDaniel in the June 3 primary, Cochran was able to expand the electorate  — a feat, pro-Cochran Republican insiders cautioned in the days leading up to the runoff, that hadn’t been achieved in Mississippi statewide elections in recent decades. Full story

Oklahoma Primary Results: Lankford Wins Senate Nomination (Updated)

Oklahoma Primary Results: Lankford Wins Senate Nomination (Updated)

Lankford is a Republican from Oklahoma. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:54 p.m. | Rep. James Lankford has won the Oklahoma primary, and now the Republican is likely headed to the Senate.

The Oklahoman defeated former state Speaker T.W. Shannon and several lesser-known candidates to win the Republican nomination Tuesday. In the strongly conservative state of Oklahoma, Lankford is all but certain to become the next senator after November.

Lankford is on track to succeed Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is stepping down at the end of this Congress. Full story

June 23, 2014

Travis Childers Awaits Cochran, McDaniel Primary Finale

Travis Childers Awaits Cochran, McDaniel Primary Finale

Childers is awaiting the Cochran runoff results. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As his two potential Republican opponents duked it out over the past three weeks, former Rep. Travis Childers has been traveling Mississippi and working the phones in preparation for an uphill Senate race.

If state Sen. Chris McDaniel is able to topple longtime Sen. Thad Cochran in the GOP runoff Tuesday, Childers would suddenly be the Democratic nominee in a race that could invite outside spending from both sides and give his party a third possible pickup opportunity as it defends the majority in a lopsided landscape.

But his Tuesday night plans do not involve any sort of watch party as Republican votes roll in.

“I don’t want to be sitting around waiting on their results,” Childers told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview. “I will probably be on the road.”

Full story

June 18, 2014

James Lankford on ‘Big Dirty Secret’ of Senate Campaign (Video Interview)

Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, a second term congressman seeking the state’s open Senate seat, chose his words carefully in a recent interview when discussing his top opponent, former state Speaker T.W. Shannon.

“I keep Reagan’s 11th Commandment that I don’t run down other Republicans,” Lankford told CQ Roll Call.

That’s true in both interviews and in his paid media strategy, as Lankford noted he plans to not run any negative ads in advance of the June 24 primary. Full story

Lankford Builds Momentum in Oklahoma Senate Race

Lankford Builds Momentum in Oklahoma Senate Race

Lankford is running for Senate in Oklahoma. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Don’t call it a comeback. Rep. James Lankford was always there.

But the Oklahoma Republican’s Senate bid has picked up momentum ahead of Tuesday’s primary, which now looks likely proceed to a runoff, giving Lankford his clearest shot at the open seat.

To win the GOP nod, the two-term congressman must eclipse the national star power of his most formidable opponent, former state Speaker T.W. Shannon, in a battle that also includes former state Sen. Randy Brogdon and several lesser-known candidates. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the primary vote Tuesday, the top two vote recipients head to an August runoff.

Lankford’s recent rise in polls and on the airwaves are signals that scenario, and his chances of taking the nomination, are increasingly likely, according to Sooner State Republicans.

“It seems to me now like Lankford has the momentum,” said Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston.

Full story

June 17, 2014

Reinforcements Infiltrate Mississippi Senate Race Runoff

Reinforcements Infiltrate Mississippi Senate Race Runoff

In the Mississippi Senate race, McDaniel received more outside help Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Conservatives Fund launched a new TV ad in Mississippi on Tuesday, becoming the latest outside group to spend significant money on the state’s Republican Senate primary runoff.

With a week to go in the three-week-long race, the SCF’s political action arm expended $210,000 for a spot arguing “it’s time for a conservative change” from six-term Sen. Thad Cochran to state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

 

The outside help comes as both candidates have pushed to raise money of their own for the extended contest. Cochran benefited from a 250-person fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee last week that provided an $820,000 financial surge. Full story

June 16, 2014

Lankford Led Shannon in Oklahoma Senate Pre-Primary Fundraising

Lankford Led Shannon in Oklahoma Senate Pre Primary Fundraising

Lankford is running in the June 24 Senate primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James Lankford headed into the final three weeks of the Oklahoma Republican Senate primary with more than double the cash on hand of his top opponent, state Speaker T.W. Shannon.

Shannon and Lankford are locked in a tight battle to succeed Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who is resigning at the end of this Congress. The winner of the June 24 primary — or Aug. 26 runoff — will be heavily favored in the November special election to serve out the remaining two years of Coburn’s term.

According to pre-primary reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission, Lankford had $732,000 in cash on hand as of June 4, while Shannon had $330,000. Full story

June 10, 2014

South Carolina Results: Lindsey Graham Wins GOP Primary (Video)

South Carolina Results: Lindsey Graham Wins GOP Primary (Video)

In the South Carolina primary, Graham faced a challenge. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On the same night that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary bid to an opponent who singularly focused on opposing the immigration overhaul, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — one of the authors of that legislation — won his primary with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Graham had 59 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race, all but ensuring his re-election to a third term. He also avoided a runoff, easily clearing the 50 percent threshold. He defeated state Sen. Lee Bright, businessman Richard Cash, businesswoman Nancy Mace, pastor Det Bowers, and attorney Bill Connor.

Conservatives initially targeted Graham this cycle, citing his support for a comprehensive immigration rewrite in the Senate. But no viable challenger emerged to take on Graham and his considerable war chest.

The senator did not take the race for granted: He has been on the air since February with ads touting his conservative bona fides.

There is no serious Democratic challenger, and Graham is expected to coast to re-election in the fall.

South Carolina’s junior senator, Republican Tim Scott, is also up for election this year. Scott was appointed to the Senate last year by Gov. Nikki R. Haley, after former GOP Sen. Jim DeMint resigned to become president of the Heritage Foundation.

Scott did not have a challenger in Tuesday’s primary.

Both races are rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Cochran Challenger Airs First TV Ad of Runoff

Cochran Challenger Airs First TV Ad of Runoff

McDaniel released a TV ad for the runoff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel launched his first TV ad of the Republican Senate primary runoff on Tuesday.

The challenger to six-term Sen. Thad Cochran finished some 1,400 votes ahead in the June 3 primary, but he did not win the majority of votes necessary to avoid the June 24 runoff.

In his first ad of the extended race, McDaniel is called “a proven conservative leader with an agenda for Mississippi,” which includes repealing the Affordable Care Act, reducing the federal debt, cutting taxes and implementing term limits “for all our politicians.” Full story

June 5, 2014

Lindsey Graham Releases Last Ads Before GOP Primary

Lindsey Graham Releases Last Ads Before GOP Primary

Lindsey Graham will face a primary on June 10. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham released the final ads of his primary campaign for re-election Thursday.

Both ads — a 30-second TV spot and 60-second radio spot — feature Graham ticking off his efforts for conservative priorities, including fighting unions and the Affordable Care Act, supporting the military and the Keystone XL pipeline, and continuing to look into the 2012 deaths in Benghazi, Libya.

The ads are part of a “significant six-figure statewide” buy and come one day after a Clemson poll found Graham taking 49 percent of the vote, just shy of the majority he needs to escape a runoff against a handful of lesser-known challengers. He still had $3.7 million on hand as of May 21, the close of the pre-primary fundraising period. Full story

Thad Cochran Allies Revamp Message for Runoff (Video)

Thad Cochran Allies Revamp Message for Runoff (Video)

Cochran, above, heads to a runoff with McDaniel. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Thad Cochran’s campaign and supporters have held separate strategy sessions in the state capital and on Capitol Hill to decipher a plan B for the longtime GOP senator, who heads to a runoff against his primary rival, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, in three weeks.

Fundraising will be a key component for both Mississippi campaigns, whose war chests were depleted in the contentious fight that concluded with a near tie on Tuesday. Neither candidate reached the 50 percent threshold to avoid a June 24 runoff.

Beyond that, according to a source with knowledge of the campaign’s deliberations, the Cochran campaign intends to improve the retail side of its strategy in about 25 targeted counties, where — with Tuesday’s election results — it now has a starting point for voter contact.

Full story

June 4, 2014

Mississippi Primary Results: Cochran, McDaniel on Track for Runoff (Updated) (Video)

Mississippi Primary Results: Cochran, McDaniel on Track for Runoff (Updated) (Video)

Chris McDaniel may be headed for a runoff in Mississippi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:54 a.m., 2:10 p.m. | One of the most contentious Republican Senate primaries of the 2014 cycle was too close to call late Tuesday night, and the Mississippi race could be extended another three weeks.

With 99.6 percent of precincts reporting, state Sen. Chris McDaniel led 49.5 percent to 48.9 percent for six-term Sen. Thad Cochran, according to The Associated Press.

If no one takes more than 50 percent of the vote, both will advance to a June 24 runoff.

In the purest example this year of the split within the GOP, Mississippi Republicans chose between the soft-spoken, influential incumbent and a 41-year-old upstart who aligned himself with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Full story

June 3, 2014

Thad Cochran Runs on Incumbency, Appropriations in GOP Primary

Thad Cochran Runs on Incumbency, Appropriations in GOP Primary

Cochran greets a supporter at Windy City Grille in Hernando. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OXFORD, Miss. — Construction on Phase II of the grand Thad Cochran Research Center here on the Ole Miss campus is expected to be completed later this year, around the time the senator hopes to be re-elected to a seventh term.

Cochran’s help securing crucial federal funding for the pharmacy school’s natural products research facility is one of numerous examples of the Senate appropriator’s widely regarded ability to steer money toward his state, which has the lowest median household income in the country.

The incumbent spent the final week of an increasingly hostile race on a statewide bus tour touting his 36 years of experience in the Senate, despite the fact that his appropriations prowess — and accusations he doesn’t fight hard enough for conservative causes — is what led to the 76-year-old’s most competitive primary challenge ever, from tea-party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“I feel comfortable knowing that I can get things done for the state to help better address our economic problems, also our national security interests,” Cochran said in an interview in Hernando, when asked about voters who may be looking for someone new. “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m situated to help influence the level of funding for a lot of government programs in the national security area that directly benefit Mississippi,” including both military installations and defense contractors. Full story

May 30, 2014

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and Rallies

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and Rallies

McDaniel speaks with an employee of Truhitt Service Center in Union, Miss. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and RalliesPHILADELPHIA, Miss. — The Chris McDaniel campaign bus is sputtering.

That’s what a reporter was told Thursday as it became clear the Mississippi state senator challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in the primary next week would be a no-show for both of his first two campaign events.

McDaniel, endorsed by former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., on Thursday, marks the tea party’s best hope for a major splash in the 2014 elections. But the recent arrest of at least two McDaniel supporters allegedly involved in the photographing of Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home has thrown the entire race into flux.

Amid the flurry of talk across the state, McDaniel is pushing forward with a 25-town statewide tour to detail his “Five Promises to Mississippi” platform. But like his Senate campaign, the McDaniel bus must navigate a bumpy route to its final destination.

Full story

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