— JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Questions about campaign decorum in Mississippi and an Iowa candidate's vow to "make 'em squeal" in Washington are at the center of two Senate Republican primaries on Tuesday, as voters in eight states pick their candidates for Senate, House and gubernatorial races.
For six-term Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, it's the race of a lifetime against conservative challenger Chris McDaniel, the faces of establishment Washington and the tea party movement that drove the GOP to the House majority in 2010. McDaniel, 41, has commanded considerable energy from Mississippi's conservatives to counter any damage his campaign suffered when four of his supporters were arrested on charges of photographing Cochran's bedridden wife in a bizarre plot. Cochran, 76, has campaigned with Southern gentility, the GOP establishment's support and a promise to leverage his Senate seniority for federal help for the state.
Cochran's clout and state election rules that allow any eligible voter to cast a ballot in any nominating contest prompted Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs to vote for Cochran.
A black Democrat who served 26 years in the state House before winning the city office in 2013, Flaggs said Tuesday he made his choice in part because Cochran secured federal money for the city's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers research station.
"I just think Thad's been good for Mississippi," Flaggs told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I don't have nothing against Chris. I just like Thad. He's always been a friend of mine."
Sylvia G. Ketcham, 80, voted in the Jackson suburb of Ridgeland, saying she did not like the dirty campaigning.
"I am a senior citizen myself, and I want to keep our senior citizen in office because he deserves it," Ketcham said, referring to Cochran.