McDaniel sweeps Pine Belt in primary, prepares for runoff

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi Senator Chris McDaniel heads into the primary runoff with a lead of nearly 1,400 votes as of Wednesday afternoon, but he is tied with six term incumbent Thad Cochran with 49 percent of the vote.

"We're very confident," said McDaniel. "We know our people have momentum."

The majority of Mississippi counties voted for Cochran, but McDaniel gained votes from Jackson County, Desoto County and the Pine Belt that helped push him to the top.

"These are people that I've gone to school with," said McDaniel of his home votes. "They're my friends. They know me, and they know I'm not who those attack ads portray me to be, so they turned out for me last night, and I'm forever grateful to the people of the Pine Belt."

McDaniel plans to travel the state to campaign for the run-off.

"The people of Mississippi need to hear from their Senator. They need to talk to me and need to answer questions and help me answer questions. That's the way this is supposed to work," said McDaniel.

The race continues to be under a national spotlight. It's the first time Cochran has had a true threat for the seat, and McDaniel is viewed by many as the one to carry the Tea Party to Washington after a few unsuccessful runs for the party in other state primaries this year.

"We understand we have a moral responsibility to change the direction of this country," said McDaniel. "But senator Cochran, well, he's been silent for too long."