WASHINGTON — Strange, unsavory twists in Mississippi’s Senate Republican race are grabbing the most attention of Tuesday’s primary elections in eight states.
Sen. Thad Cochran, seeking a seventh six-year term, faces state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who’s backed by tea party groups.
Voters in Alabama, California, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota also will nominate candidates for the Nov. 4 elections.
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. Whoever wins Tuesday will be favored in November in the heavily Republican state.