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Cochran Wins Mississippi Runoff, Edges Tea Partyer

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Sen. Thad Cochran thanks supporters after narrowly defeating Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in a runoff election for the GOP primary in Mississippi. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Sen. Thad Cochran thanks supporters after narrowly defeating Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in a runoff election for the GOP primary in Mississippi. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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JACKSON, Miss.  (CBS DC/AP) — In a remarkable political turnaround, six-term Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi edged out tea party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel Tuesday night in a bruising, costly Republican runoff that pitted Washington clout against insistence on conservative purity.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Cochran had 51 percent to McDaniel’s 49 percent, three weeks after McDaniel had beaten the veteran lawmaker in the initial primary round but had fallen short of the majority needed for nomination. In the three-week dash to the runoff, Cochran and his allies had highlighted his seniority while McDaniel had argued that Cochran was part of a blight of federal overspending.

In a brief speech, Cochran credited those who helped. “It’s a group effort, it’s not a solo and so we all have a right to be proud of our state tonight.”

The victory for a stalwart of the Senate Appropriations Committee was a fresh blow to the tea party movement, which spent millions to cast aside Cochran, a mainstream Republican who won a U.S. House seat in President Richard Nixon’s GOP wave of 1972 and has served in the Senate for more than three decades.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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