Distortions fly in Mississippi Senate race

The Senate Republican primary in Mississippi has been a negative and costly campaign — a proxy fight between the Republican establishment that stands behind Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party allies who are supporting challenger, Chris McDaniel.

The election, which takes place June 3, may represent the tea party’s last and best chance to score a “bigwin” by knocking off a sitting senator. McDaniel, a state senator since 2008, has endorsements from Sarah Palin, Club for Growth, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, FreedomWorks and most recently Rick Santorum.

Club for Growth Action, the super PAC of the conservative Club for Growth, so far has spent nearly $2.5 million to help McDaniel — the most of any outside group and more than McDaniel’s own campaign. In fact, total spending by all outside groups to date in the race has exceeded the spending of both candidates combined.

Cochran, who first came to Congress as a House member in 1973, has the support of the state’s top party leaders — including Gov. Phil Bryant, Sen. Roger Wicker and former Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has helped raise money for Mississippi Conservatives PAC, a super PAC formed to help Cochran.