Veteran Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel have advanced to a Republican primary runoff in Mississippi's Senate race, The Associated Press reports.
Neither Cochran nor tea party favorite McDaniel nabbed 50 percent of the vote, forcing a June 24 runoff between the two. A third GOP candidate, Thomas Carey, finished with 2 percent of the vote.
A runoff would likely draw lower voter turnout, which could be an advantage for McDaniel. And the extra three weeks of GOP sparring could benefit the Democratic nominee, former Rep. Travis Childers.
The heated GOP primary contest took a bizarre turn just a few weeks before primary day.
The Associated Press offered details on the contest Tuesday:
The Mississippi Senate race initially followed familiar themes. Cochran, backed by the Republican establishment, said he consistently steers federal money to the state. McDaniel said Cochran is insufficiently conservative.
Things turned bizarre when four McDaniel supporters were charged with crimes after one of them photographed Cochran's wife in her nursing home, where she has spent 13 years, suffering dementia. Police said the four men conspired to use the images to advance allegations Cochran was having an inappropriate relationship, which the senator denies. McDaniel and others have raised questions about Cochran bringing a female Senate aide on numerous official trips overseas.
Cochran's adult children say he remains devoted to his wife. McDaniel says he had no part in the photography incident, calling it reprehensible.
Still, the matter has dominated the campaign's closing days, with each side accusing the other of underhanded politics.