Mississippi's super PAC-dominated Senate slugfest not over yet

Center for Public Integrity

A U.S. Senate primary dominated by super PACs and nonprofit groups is headed into overtime.

Neither incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., nor Chris McDaniel, his tea party challenger, on Tuesday mustered the requisite 50 percent of votes needed to propel them from one of the nation's most contentious intramural battles toward an likely trip to Capitol Hill.

Unless a final batch of uncounted votes dramatically swing they way of one candidate over the other today, Cochran and McDaniel now square off again in a June 24 runoff emblematic of a broader GOP civil war pitting party standard bearers against tea party insurgents.

That likely means three more weeks of freewheeling spending by a gaggle of outside organizations — some with few ties to Mississippi, a state of fewer than 3 million people — that have dominated the race.

Related: GOP civil war rages in Senate primary battles

Super PACs, nonprofit groups and other political committees spent more than $8 million to beat down or boost up their candidate of choice, generally through television, radio, mail and phone ads, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal disclosures.

Cochran and McDaniel together controlled less than two-fifths of the $13.4 million that poured into their primary fracas.

Nevertheless, when the money the candidates themselves raised for their primary campaigns is added to the money spent by supportive outside groups, the results are nearly even: Team Cochran controlled about $6.9 million, Team McDaniel about $6.5 million.

Most of the outside spending in Mississippi's Senate primary — $5.26 million — benefited McDaniel, with tea party super PACs Club for Growth Action, Senate Conservatives Action and FreedomWorks for America investing the most.

Related: Super PACs, nonprofits fueling GOP strife

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This story is part of Primary Source. Primary Source keeps you up-to-date on developments in the post-Citizens United world of money in politics. Click here to read more stories in this blog.

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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

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