SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Senator Thad Cochran narrowly won a chance at a seventh Congressional term Tuesday when he defeated challenger Chris McDaniel in the GOP primary runoff. But McDaniel vowed to continue his fight for a more conservative voice in Mississippi's Republican party.
Cochran jumped out to an early lead, but McDaniel kept the margin close all evening. In the end, McDaniel could not come up with enough votes to unseat the 41 year veteran.
As for how South Mississippians voted, Cochran won Harrison and Jackson counties. McDaniel won Hancock, George, Stone, Pearl River, and Greene counties. Overall, Cochran won 47 counties to McDaniel's 33. Two counties ended the night undecided.
In his victory speech, Cochran thanked his supporters and campaign workers "who helped reach all of the voters."
"It's been a real pleasure working closely with so many of you making appearances in towns all across Mississippi," Cochran told the crowd. "We all have a right to be proud of our state tonight. Thank you very much. Thank you for this wonderful honor and wonderful challenge that lies ahead."
While Cochran looked ahead to the general election fight, McDaniel also looked forward to continuing his fight with the Republican establishment. He lashed out at the incumbent's means of victory saying, "There is something a bit strange and unusual about a Republican primary that's decided by liberal Democrats. So much for bold colors. So much for principle. I guess they can take some consolation that they did something tonight by once again compromising, by once again reaching across the aisle, by once again abandoning the conservative movement."
"We have fought too long, we have worked too hard to have a voice in this party. And today the conservative movement took a backseat to liberal democrats in the state of Mississippi. In the most conservative state in the republic, this happened. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere, and that's why we will never stop fighting."
The Tea Party backed candidate pointed out that there were "dozens of irregularities reported all across the state." And he vowed to make sure "the sanctity of the vote is upheld."
"Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters," McDaniel said.
As it stands right now, Thad Cochran will face Democratic candidate Travis Childers and Reform Party candidate Shawn O'Hara in the November 4th general election.