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Establishment order restored in midterm elections

BY Domenico Montanaro, Terence Burlij, Rachel Wellford and Simone Pathe  June 25, 2014 at 9:12 AM EST
Supporters of Sen. Thad Cochran celebrate after his narrow victory over state Sen. Chris McDaniel at the Mississippi Children's Museum Tuesday in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Supporters of Sen. Thad Cochran celebrate after his narrow victory over state Sen. Chris McDaniel at the Mississippi Children’s Museum Tuesday in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Cochran, the new “Comeback Kid”
  • Cantor loss looks more like an aberration than a trend
  • Hillary Clinton talks with NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill

Cochran survives runoff against McDaniel: They say lightning never strikes the same place twice. Republican Sen. Thad Cochran defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent in Mississippi’s Senate GOP runoff, three weeks after the six-term lawmaker came in second to his tea party-backed challenger in the June 3 primary. Cochran won, in part, by expanding the electorate, reaching out to Democrats and African-American voters, a strategy that drew attention in the closing days of the race. As the Washington Post’s Robert Costa and Philip Rucker write: “In the 24 counties with a majority black population, turnout increased by 39.4 percent, giving Cochran a big edge.” In Hinds County, which includes Jackson, nearly 70 percent of the population is African-American. Cochran saw his vote total there jump from 10,928 to 17,927 (6,999 votes), while McDaniel increased his total by about 1,300 votes. McDaniel blasted Cochran’s strategy in defiant remarks delivered Tuesday night. “There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” McDaniel said. He also refused to concede, telling the crowd of supporters, “We are not prone to surrender.” Overall, there were nearly 60,000 more votes cast in the runoff than the primary three weeks ago. Cochran picked up almost 37,000 additional votes. Cochran’s victory in all likelihood takes the seat off the table for Democrats, who contended that former Rep. Travis Childers would have been able to run a competitive race against McDaniel given his past controversial statements as a talk-radio host. Cochran hasn’t had a competitive general election contest since he first ran for the Senate in 1978.

Sigh of relief for GOP: Establishment groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Barbour family, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were breathing a jubilant sigh of relief Tuesday night in Mississippi. For the last three weeks, they have poured in efforts and resources trying to do the improbable, expand the electorate to include black voters and Democrats. That is the most unlikely of paths to victory in a GOP primary, but they pulled it off. There was a lot of risk for these groups, the NRSC in particular. They went so hard after McDaniel, even airing an ad with some of his harshest talk-radio comments, that if McDaniel did emerge, he would have been damaged, and Democrats would have had plenty of ammunition. But, as one operative told Morning Line, “We didn’t budge an inch when we lost the primary.” Instead, $1 million was raised between the primary and runoff out of Washington for Cochran, including half of that just from the NRSC. They spent $370,000 on get-out-the-vote efforts between digital contacts and phone banking. In all, the NRSC had 45 staffers and volunteers on the ground, knocking on 50,000 doors and making 18,000 calls from the basement of the NRSC just over the last three weeks. They’re also breathing a sigh of relief that they won’t have to defend McDaniel or have his past comments threaten other GOP candidates as they see the Senate majority on the horizon. By the way, Republicans also avoided some soundbite nightmares with former Rep. Tom Tancredo’s loss for the GOP nomination for governor in Colorado.

Cantor loss looks more like an aberration: It wasn’t just in Mississippi that the establishment candidates and incumbents cleaned up. In New York, 43-year Rep. Charlie Rangel, 84, claimed victory, leading 47 percent to 44 percent in his Manhattan district. The race hasn’t officially been called yet and his opponent, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, hasn’t conceded. In Upstate New York, Republican Richard Hanna survived his tea party challenge, beating back state Rep. Claudia Tenney 53 percent to 47 percent. In Oklahoma, Congressman James Lankford surprisingly and easily avoided a runoff for the open Republican Senate seat, defeating former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, 57 percent to 34 percent. And in Colorado, Rep. Doug Lamborn survived a closer-than-expected challenge with 53 percent. These were all hard-fought contests but, in the end, every incumbent in a close race won Tuesday night and every tea party challenger lost, restoring the establishment trend seen for much of this election before the seismic loss of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., two weeks ago. That loss now looks a lot more like an aberration than a trend.

Hillary — ‘You have to be a little crazy to run for president’: The NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill sat down with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday night. The full interview will air Wednesday on the NewsHour. Here are a few excerpts. Asked about comments she’s made about her wealth during the book tour, Clinton acknowledged, “I shouldn’t have said the five or so words that I said, but my unartful use of those few words doesn’t change who I am, what I’ve stood for my entire life, what I stand for today.” Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, defended her Tuesday at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in Denver, saying, “She’s not out of touch.” Hillary Clinton told Ifill about that: “My husband was very sweet today, but I don’t need anybody to defend my record, I think my record speaks for itself.” On Iraq and whether President Obama should have left a residual force, she points the finger at the Bush administration. “He was deciding based on what the Bush administration had already determined,” she said, “because they were the ones who said troops have to be out by the end of 2011.” Clinton is still thinking about a run for president, but noted, “You have to be a little bit crazy to run for president.” Tune in Wednesday night for the full interview.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1844, President John Tyler took Julia Gardiner as his bride, becoming the first U.S. President to marry while in office. Who was the first president to marry in the White House? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Graham H. Morris (‏@GrahamHMorris) for guessing Tuesday’s trivia: What do Al Gore, Andrew Jackson and Samuel Tilden have in common with Cleveland? The answer was: They all won the popular vote in a presidential election, but lost.

LINE ITEMS

  • President Obama will have lunch with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the White House Wednesday. At 2:45 p.m. ET, the president will host racecar driver Jimmie Johnson at the White House to honor him for his 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. At 6:30 p.m. ET, Obama will deliver remarks at the League of Conservation Voters Capital Dinner.

  • The establishment candidate, former Rep. Bob Beauprez, won Colorado’s GOP gubernatorial primary, defeating immigration hardliner former Rep. Tom Tancredo. 2010 Senate nominee Ken Buck won the GOP nomination for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.

  • Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is the likely next governor from Maryland with his convincing 51 percent to 24 percent win over state Attorney General Doug Gansler in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Gansler had such a poor performance that he was almost caught by Heather Mizeur, who grabbed 22 percent. Brown will face Larry Hogan, a businessman from Anne Arundel County, in November’s general election.

  • Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall will serve as head of the Republican Study Committee, replacing Rep. Steve Scalise, until elections in November — pending unanimous approval of RSC membership Wednesday, National Journal’s Tim Alberta reports.

  • Politico reports that in a meeting, just one day after Scalise won his leadership position, Speaker John Boehner told the new majority whip, “You are about to find out just how moderate you are.”

  • Addressing the House GOP conference Tuesday, Boehner said he’s readying plans for a lawsuit challenging Mr. Obama’s executive actions. The White House had no response.

  • Speaker Boehner has appointed a “working group” of House Republicans to help advise lawmakers on the humanitarian crisis caused by the influx of illegal immigrants across the southern border of the U.S.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz spoke with some of the most conservative House members in an off-the-record pizza party held in his Senate office Tuesday night. Included in the meeting was Lamborn, who barely survived his conservative challenge.

  • A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that only 21 percent of Americans say they support the tea party movement, but their voter participation is higher than those Republicans who do not support the tea party.

  • The political fight over the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service escalated when the IRS said it had lost thousands of emails when a former official’s computer crashed. NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown talked to Reps. John Mica, R-Fla., and Sander Levin, D-Mich., about the allegations that the emails may have been intentionally destroyed.

  • Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., hosted a roundtable that included campus and municipal police, college administrators, victims’ advocates, rape survivors and prosecutors to discuss campus sexual assaults.

  • The League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Action Fund have teamed up on a nearly $1 million TV ad buy tying Iowa GOP Senate nominee Joni Ernst to Sarah Palin and the Koch brothers.

  • The Hill looks at the leverage Native American tribes, specifically the Lumbee Tribe, have in the Senate race in North Carolina, which is home to the most Native Americans east of the Mississippi River.

  • A federal district court in Oregon ruled that a 2008 law allowing for warrantless surveillance is constitutional. In a separate decision, the same court ruled that barring people with suspected connections to terrorism from flying was unconstitutional.

  • Subpoenaed phone records released by the state legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures show that former Port Authority Chairman David Samson was “in frequent contact” with state House aides during the time of the closures.

  • The Louisiana Board of Regents is ignoring Gov. Bobby Jindal’s announcement last week that the state would stop complying with the Common Core education standards, saying they will continue teaching Common Core.

  • State Rep. Duey Stroebel is running to replace Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., when he retires at the end of the year. In his latest ad, Stroebel depicts his large family as a baseball team that has learned teamwork and how to play by the rules, unlike “career politicians.”

  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., is about to celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary with a party in Miami, but she doesn’t want any gifts. She would like guests to contribute money to her leadership PAC.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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