Mississippi's Cochran tries to hold off tea party-backed challenger a generation younger

The Associated Press

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., listens as former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor introduces him at the Pass Christian, Miss., Harbor on Thursday June 19, 2014. Cochran faces Chris McDaniel next week in the Republican primary runoff for his seat. (AP Photo/Sun Herald, Jon Fitzhugh)

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By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS and BILL BARROW, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran appears a bit frayed as he tries to fend off a challenger born the year he was first elected to Congress.

The 76-year-old Republican is thinner than he was 20 years ago and sometimes leans in to hear questions. But supporters argue it would be a mistake to retire him because he's an effective negotiator who embraces a mannerly approach to politics.

Cochran faces a June 24 Republican primary runoff with tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who turns 42 this month. McDaniel says Mississippi needs someone younger and more conservative in Washington.

Cochran was elected to the House in 1972 and the Senate in 1978 and is a former Senate Appropriations chairman. The last time he had to exert himself for re-election was in 1984.

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