Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said this week he was unaware of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprise primary loss in Virginia to a candidate favored by Tea Party groups, even as Cochran himself is at risk of losing to a similar candidate.
When asked this week what he thought about what happened in Virginia, Cochran replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, what happened in Virginia?”
“I haven’t really followed that campaign very closely,” he said in a video posted by Fox News.
When told about Cantors loss, Cochran said:
“Well, it happens. You know, members of Congress, some win, some lose. It’s not an automatic proposition that you get re-elected just because you’ve done a good job.
“Voters make their own decisions, and I respect their judgment.”
Cochran is at serious risk of sharing the same fate with Cantor. He’s in a tight runoff election race with Chris McDaniel, a state senator who is favored by Tea Party groups.
Recent polls have said McDaniel is leading in the polls. McDaniel won more votes than Cochran in last week’s primary election, but didn’t win a majority, which means the two are campaigning for a June 24 runoff election.
David Brat’s primary win against Cantor has energized action around McDaniel. According to the New York Times, groups like Freedom Works and the Club for Growth are helping McDaniel’s cause, and McDaniel himself is citing Brat’s victory as a sign he can beat Cochran.
While Tea Party groups clearly preferred Brat over Cantor, there’s some debate over the extent to which Tea Party groups actually supported Brat. Some conservatives said Brat was helped much more by media personalities like Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham.
Tea Party representatives did say they met with Brat and provided grassroots support, but have admitted they didn’t put as many resources into the race based on polls showing Cantor with an easy lead in the race.