Miss. GOP senator faces tea party challenger

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Veteran Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran is facing his toughest re-election challenge in years — from a state lawmaker named Chris McDaniel, who's adept at fueling tea party furor. But Cochran has a potent weapon on his side: The Barbour family political machine.

The 76-year-old incumbent, cast by McDaniel as an out-of-touch Washington insider, faces a June 3 primary in his bid for a seventh Senate term. Backing Cochran are most of Mississippi's big-name Republicans, including former Gov. Haley Barbour and his family.

McDaniel, a 41-year-old attorney, is supported by the Club for Growth and other groups that helped propel tea party hero Ted Cruz into the Senate from Texas. McDaniel says Cochran has helped create trillions of dollars of federal debt.

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