More To Come In Mississippi?

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • THAD PREVAILS: In a nail biter of a race, six-term incumbent Thad Cochran defeated his tea party challenger State Sen. Chris McDaniel in the Mississippi GOP Senate primary run-off, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and BARBARA SCHMITT report. Cochran bested McDaniel 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent, a difference of less than 4,800 votes, according to The Associated Press. McDaniel failed to concede or congratulate his opponent Tuesday in a speech to about 200 supporters at the Hattiesburg Lake Terrace Convention Center. "It's our job to make sure that th sanctity of the vote is upheld," he said. "Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters." This was a re-match for the two, as neither reached the 50 percent threshold on their primary day earlier this month.
  • BUT MCDANIEL MAY NOT BE DONE: Last night, McDaniel told supporters, "The fight is not over. The tea-party-backed candidate addressed the crowd of about 200 people inside the convention center in Hattiesburg shortly after the Associate Press called the run off primary in favor of Cochran, ABC's BARBARA SCHMITT notes. The crowd chanted, "Let Chris in!" as the defiant McDaniel stood with his wife and two sons - never conceding nor congratulating Senator Thad Cochran during his ten minute address to the crowd. Instead, the young state senator capitalized on the crowd's frustration with Sen. Cochran's campaign strategy of luring black voters who traditionally vote Democrat.
  • RANGEL RACE TOO CLOSE TO CALL: Twenty-two term incumbent Rep. Charlie Rangel is locked in a close race against his Democratic challenger State Sen. Adriano Espaillat. With 100 percent of precincts reporting in New York's 13th District, Rangel has 47.4 percent and Espaillat has 43.6 percent, with just 1,828 votes separating the two, according to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. Rangel declared victory in a speech to supporters, but the Associated Press said they would not call the race because an "an undetermined number of absentee and provisional ballots" were "outstanding."


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: On the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, an ironic American story: Scores of black voters and white Democrats rally to the defense of a Republican and help pull Sen. Thad Cochran over the finish line. It was a brutal Mississippi race, which Tea Party insurgent Chris McDaniel assumed he had wrapped up. But what a sudden turn of fortunes: McDaniel took the Cochran campaign by surprise three weeks ago, but it was McDaniel who was caught off guard when it really mattered. The only thing McDaniel and his supporters walked away with last night was the sore loser award. Yes, there may be fallout from how Cochran won and those wounds may not heal quickly, if at all, but the Mississippi Senate race is the best example so far this year of the establishment striking back and winning. It wouldn't be possible everywhere, but it worked in Mississippi for three reasons: The Barbour political machine, Democrats have never viewed Cochran as divisive and some voters actually like - and need - government and wanted to send a senator to Washington who shares that view.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: Sen. Thad Cochran's supporters put on a three-week clinic in Mississippi, without any of the natural advantages of political momentum, filled coffers, or even an energetic and enthusiastic candidate. They harnessed outside groups and in-state allies to do something remarkable: get more people to vote for their candidate. Turnout jumped nearly 20 percent since the first round of voting - fueled, already famously, by big jumps in heavily black communities, which didn't show up for Cochran by accident. Chris McDaniel didn't concede last night and seemed to promise a legal fight over supposed "irregularities": "Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters," he said last night. A tea party group cited "nefarious campaign tactics" in Cochran's win. This, though, amounts to attacking Cochran for appealing to more voters rather than fewer, for using the rules of the state's open primary system to win. It's reminiscent of a certain 2008 presidential campaign that used caucus rules and delegate-awarding quirks to beat a frontrunner. "Always impressive to watch a campaign embark on an unorthodox strategy and succeed," David Plouffe Tweeted last night. "Hats off to Team Cochran. Campaign quality still matters."


MARION BARRY CLAIMS FBI TRIED TO KILL HIM IN CRACK-SMOKING STING. Nearly a quarter-century after the notorious FBI sting that defined his political career, former D.C. mayor and current city councilman Marion Barry claims that the FBI was trying to kill him. "I just think so, because during the trial the government refused to have that substance tested," Barry said, referencing the crack cocaine that he was caught smoking in the raid. "I think that's kind of strange, don't you think?" Barry sat down with "Power Players" at D.C.'s Carolina Kitchen restaurant to discuss his new memoir, "Mayor for Life," in which he tells all about the January 18, 1990 sting when Rasheeda Moore, a former romantic acquaintance of Barry's, worked with the FBI to catch the then-mayor smoking crack cocaine on videotape. WATCH:



LANKFORD WINS OKLAHOMA GOP SENATE PRIMARY, AVOIDS RUNOFF. Rep. James Lankford won the seven-candidate Republican primary in the Oklahoma Senate race to replace the outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn Tuesday, avoiding a runoff and defeating a tough, tea-party funded challenger, notes ABC's BEN SIEGEL. In a setback for national tea party forces, Lankford, a rising GOP star in Washington, defeated T.W. Shannon, the African-American and Native American former speaker of Oklahoma's House of Representatives who received endorsements from Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He too is considered a rising star within the party. "Lankford's demonstrated broad appeal we haven't seen from an Oklahoma City-based candidate in 50 years, so it's an exceptional victory," said Keith Gaddie, a University of Oklahoma political science professor. The two-term congressman, 46, will likely win the general election in deep-red Oklahoma, where Republicans hold every statewide office and both state legislative chambers.

WHY OBAMA KEEPS TRYING TO POP THE BUBBLE With 30 months left in the White House, President Obama is craving the trappings of everyday America, according to ABC's DEVIN DWYER. From impromptu visits to Starbucks and Chipotle, to joining the herds of tourists along Pennsylvania Avenue and the National Mall, Obama is showing increased eagerness to break out of his highly-controlled Washington bubble. The second-term president who's thrived on stump speeches and grassroots rallies, stops in small town coffee shops and visits to factories, is looking for new ways to stay connected. On Thursday, Obama will "spend a day" with a Minnesota mother, visiting her home in Minneapolis and discussing what her life is like, the White House says. The president says in a White House video that the people he will meet with this summer have written him compelling personal letters about their lives and their struggles.

-NOTED: OBAMA'S CHIPOTLE MOMENT DUBBED A CASE OF 'PRESIDENTIAL OVERREACH' In a visit to a DC Chipotle, President Obama unleashed a social media firestorm after committing the fast food chain's cardinal sin - he reached over the sneeze glass, ABC's SCOTT WILSON notes. Obama went to Chipotle Monday with participants in the White House Working Families Summit. Apparently the president had never been before, or at least he hadn't ordered himself in a while, because his finger came dangerously close to the food behind the counter. The germaphobes on Twitter responded with outrage. Obama's faux pas has been called "grounds for impeachment" and labeled as vast "presidential overreach." The president was also criticized for calling the fast food chain "Chipotle's," rather than "Chipotle."

SMALL GROUP OF FORMER LAWMAKERS TRY TO TACKLE WASHINGTON GRIDLOCK How do you fix American politics? A group of former senators believe they have some of the answers to the gridlock and partisanship fueling Americans' lack of faith in Washington and Congress' historic levels of inaction ABC's BENJAMIN SIEGEL reports. Working with the Bipartisan Policy Center, former Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Tom Daschle, D-S.D., unveiled their bipartisan blueprint today to move governing forward in Washington. "Frankly, Congress is reaching a tipping point in its ability to effectively legislate," said Snowe, who retired in 2012 due in part to frustration with partisanship. The blueprint's recommendations are divided into three subjects - elections, legislation and civic engagement. While the report is "not an elixir," Daschle said, it has the "potential to transform our nation's politics and civil life."

OBAMA TO 'MAKE SURE' ISIS CAN'T ATTACK US, KERRY TELLS ABC ISIS, the radical Islamic group that has routed the Iraqi army, is not yet capable of carrying out its threat to attack the U.S. and President Obama wants to "make sure that they never can," Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC News yesterday, according to ABC's ALI WEINBERG and ALEXANDER MAQUARDT. The leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has made threats to attack Americans and other western countries, and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron recently said he fears ISIS is a danger to the West. "They have indicated a desire to do so. They've already indicated and the rhetoric has embraced attacks against the West," Kerry said. But when asked whether ISIS has the ability to strike the U.S., Kerry said, "Not yet." "Certainly one of the considerations we have is to make sure that they never can. But that's exactly what the president is busy trying to determine now, is: What is the best way to approach that so that we are most effective and, frankly, in a way that is sustainable over the long haul?" he said.

DHS CHIEF BLAMES 'HORRIBLE' CONDITIONS FOR CHILD IMMIGRANT SPIKE, NOT DEFERRED ACTION Deferring action against undocumented immigrants who arrive in the United States as children is not to blame for the mass migration of unaccompanied minors to the U.S. Southwest border, but rather the conditions in their homeland, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said yesterday, ABC's SERENA MARSHALL notes. "Conditions in Honduras are horrible," Johnson said, citing one example on the same day the State Department warned U.S. citizens about "critically high" crime and violence there. "[It's] the murder capital of the world." Johnson testified at a House hearing in Washington yesterday that cartels are telling people they can get a "permiso" that gives them access to the United States, which is "not the case."

CHRISTIAN WOMAN WHO WAS SENTENCED TO DEATH BLOCKED FROM LEAVING SUDAN The U.S. State Department is monitoring the case of a Sudanese woman whose death sentence for marrying a Christian was rescinded this week, but was arrested again along with her family when she tried to leave the country, ABC's ALI WEINBERG reports. Meriam Ibrahim, 27, was held at the airport along with her children and husband, a U.S. citizen, for allegedly not having the right travel documents, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters. The four were released yesterday after being questioned for several hours at the airport, but are still not allowed to leave the country. Harf said that the Sudanese government has assured the United States of the family's safety, and that the U.S. embassy has been and will remain involved in the case.

NCAA OVERHAUL MOVES CLOSER AS CONGRESS MOUNTS PRESSURE Congressional scrutiny of the NCAA's handling of student athletics is growing, with members of Congress asking pointed questions of top officials about the treatment and benefits offered to student athletes, ABC NEW's RICK KLEIN and ANDY KATZ report. As bills emerge to force colleges and universities to make good on scholarships that cover four years of education - and as legal challenges seek financial rewards and union rights for athletes - NCAA officials should stand warned that lawmakers are pressing for action to address perceived inequities, Rep. Tony Cardenas said in the latest episode of the ESPN podcast series "Capital Games." "We're hearing from young people who say, 'Well, as soon as I got hurt, all of the sudden my scholarship was gone and I didn't have the wherewithal to finish school," said Cardenas, D-Calif., a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "The bottom line is, they better be careful," Cardenas said. "The NCAA is acting like they can or are willing to self-police. It doesn't appear that they are willing to do it to the degree that they should."


-MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CHANNEL THEIR INNER GEORGE JETSON. No driver? No problem. Members of Congress got the unique chance this morning to ride around the nation's capital in a prototype driverless car from Carnegie Mellon University, according to ABC's JAKE LEFFERMAN. "Who would have ever thought we'd be sitting here talking about autonomous vehicles" near Capitol Hill, asked Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "George Jetson may be a reality." The car has an electronic "brain" in the trunk where one would normally keep a spare tire. This technology could reduce traffic accidents, said Shuster during a press conference. "I believe this car is going to reduce fatalities because 93 percent of the crashes that occur are driver control errors," said Shuster.

-WHITE HOUSE INTERN FAINTS DURING DAILY BRIEFING. It was a rough first day for a White House communications intern whose public fainting brought press secretary Josh Earnest's briefing to an abrupt end, ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes. It happened 57 minutes into the daily briefing in the press room. The intern - who asked that the press pool not release her name - was standing along the south wall. Positioned between two other new comms interns, the young woman suddenly slumped to her right and collapsed, creating a stir and prompting Earnest to declare his session over. "Oh goodness," Earnest said as the commotion unfolded. A White House official told a pool reporter that it was the intern's first day here. Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz rushed water over to the woman, and another aide brought out a small box of M&Ms.

-DESIGN A SOCK FOR GEORGE H.W. BUSH! Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush once estimated that his father, former President George H. W. Bush, "must have, like, 500 pair of socks." Bush, a self-proclaimed "sock man," has flaunted his funny footwear all over the country, from Harvard to the White House. His selection is about to get a whole lot wider. Now, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation is inviting Bush fans to design a sock in honor of the elder Bush's 90th birthday, according to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY . Bush himself will select the winning pairs, which will be displayed at his presidential library in College Station, Texas. But if you're hoping your design will make it onto those venerable feet, be prepared to knock the former president's (existing) socks off.


TRENT LOTT, JOHN BREAUX TO CHAIR SQUIRE PATTON BOGGS PUBLIC POLICY PRACTICE. An announcement from the firm: "Intent on enhancing its position as the most influential public policy law firm in the world, Squire Patton Boggs, which was created through the June 1 combination of Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs, announced today the appointment of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (D-LA) and former Senate Deputy Minority Whip John Breaux (R-MS) as co-chairs of the firm's Public Policy Practice. Senators Breaux and Lott will direct policy-related initiatives for Squire Patton Boggs on a global basis with the benefit of an international footprint that uniquely positions the firm to assist businesses with increased regulatory challenges in markets around the world. … Since joining Patton Boggs in 2010, The Breaux-Lott Leadership Group has operated as a semi-autonomous group within the Patton Boggs Public Policy Practice. In the combined firm, Senators Lott and Breaux and their team are fully integrated within the global law firm, and the Senators will serve as co-chairs of the firm's Public Policy Practice."


@Arianedevogue: Getting down to the wire here @ #Scotus. 8 more opinions to go. Opinions days= today, tomorrow and probably next Monday

@ananavarro: People who thought it wad perfectly fine Democrats helped Cantor lose, are crying foul b/c Democrats helped Cochran win. Boo-hoo.

@sbg1: Thad Cochran won. But he's already an anachronism. …

@PounderFile: WaPo's @Milbank: Obama's political bogey on the golf course

@CapehartJ: Can't believe it has been five years since Michael Jackson moonwalked out of our lives. #yallsneighborhood