Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Wednesday 06/04/14

Thad Cochran Trails, Faces Likely Runoff

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, faces a runoff in his GOP Senate primary race against state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Mississippi media reported Wednesday that Daniel had a slight edge 49.6% - 48.8% edge over Cochran, but neither got 50% needed to avoid a runoff. A wild-card third-party candidate had taken 2% of the vote. That means Cochran, 76, and McDaniel, 42, will face s June 24 runoff vote.

Reports showed 98% of the precincts had reported in that Mississippi race. Cochran, a six-term senator, worked with Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to craft the 2014 farm bill. McDaniel is carrying the flag for the tea party, anti-Washington sentiment in Mississippi.

Out in California, another candidate with ties to the Senate Agriculture Committee fared better. Amanda Renteria, the daughter of immigrant farm workers, is a former chief of staff for Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Renteria won a Democratic primary for a Latino-heavy congressional district in California's agricultural area -- Fresno, Kern and Tulare Counties. Democrats think they can pick up the seat against incumbent Rep. David Valadao in a district President Obama won easily in 2012.

In another key Senate race, Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst won the GOP primary in Iowa. Ernst, 43, is a state senator and former National Guard commander. From western Iowa, her win sets up a battle with U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, an eastern Iowa Democrat, to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin. Ernst captured national attention in the race with her ads riding Harleys, shooting guns and talk of castrating hogs (to show she knows how to cut pork).

In the race to replace retiring Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa, none of the six Republican candidates for Iowa's 3rd congressional district received at least 35% of the vote. That sends the race in southwest Iowa to a district GOP convention later this summer. Brad Zaun, a Des Moines businessman, was the leading vote-getter. Monte Shaw, former head of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, is one of the trailing candidates in the race. However, district conventions in Iowa can change fortunes. Just ask Rep. Steve King, who represents Iowa's fourth district. He came out of a crowded primary in 2002 to win the GOP nomination in convention because the convention delegates were packed with social conservatives more aligned with King's views. King has held the district ever since.

The winner in that Iowa 3rd District primary will face Democrat Staci Appel. Ernst and Appel are trying to become the first women elected to Congress from Iowa.

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 6:55AM CDT 06/04/14 by Chris Clayton
Comments (1)
Its Mississippi, what would you expect?
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 8:24PM CDT 06/05/14
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