Mississippi Senate Race 2014: ABC News' '14 For 14'

PHOTO: Senator Thad Cochran approaches the Senate floor on May 13, 2014 and Miss. Senator Chris McDaniel speaks to a town hall meeting in Ocean Springs, Miss. on March 18, 2014.

ABC News' "14 For 14" project is documenting 14 races that matter between now and November. This page will be updated throughout the year. See the full list of 2014 midterm election contests the ABC News political team is tracking.

THE PLAYERS

Sen. Thad Cochran (Incumbent)
Republican
Served as a U.S. Senator from Mississippi since 1978; served in the House previously since 1972
Age: 76 (born: December 7, 1937)

State Sen. Chris McDaniel
Republican
Served in Mississippi State Senate since 2008
Age: 41 (born: June 28, 1972)

THE STAKES

It’s the dirtiest primary this year and thanks to neither candidate clearing 50 percent on the primary election on June 3rd, it continues with a re-match on June 24th. The establishment forces are squarely behind six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran while the tea party has State Sen. Chris McDaniel and neither side seems to be backing down. McDaniel came in ahead by half a percentage point, less than 1,400 votes, and runoffs have been notoriously difficult for incumbents, but former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour who is behind the pro-Cochran superpac Mississippi Conservatives told ABC News he will stay in the fight. “We are not going to let a bunch of people from Washington or New York dictate who represents Mississippi in the U.S. Senate,” Barbour said, noting tea party groups that have backed McDaniel like “Club for Growth or FreedomWorks…those guys couldn’t care less about Mississippi,” Barbour said. “They wouldn’t know Pascagoula from Pontotoc.” Barney Keller, spokesman for conservative anti-tax Club for Growth, hit back saying Barbour is “losing a race in his own backyard” and other tea party groups like FreedomWorks are in the state working until the end. It’s just a taste of the divisiveness and nastiness that has been going on for months in the Magnolia State. It came to a head, and grabbed headlines, in April when a McDaniel supporter sneaked into a nursing home where Cochran’s bedridden wife has lived for over a decade with dementia. Once inside, the McDaniel supporter proceeded to secretly film the wife of the three-term congressman-turned-senator and then put the video online. McDaniel disavowed the act and says he has no relationship with the conservative blogger. Four people were arrested. That has mostly died down, although there is more time now for it to rear its head and continue to develop. It is likely to be a close one and it’s possible Eric Cantor’s shocking loss could embolden the tea party even more. One thing that’s clear: it is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

THE OUTLOOK

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