In just a few hours, we’ll know whether the Tea Party has made Thad CochranThad CochranGOP senators voice misgivings about short-term spending bill Trump's wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything Bottom Line MORE its latest victim.

The Mississippi senator’s supporters are enthused by higher turnout than was seen in the primary three weeks ago and think he might have some late momentum. But given the trajectory of the race and the heavy outside spending, a Cochran win at this point would be the bigger surprise of the night. 

If challenger Chris McDaniel does win, Republicans could have quite the conundrum on their hands. On Tuesday many state politicians said the wounds would heal — on “The Daily Rundown” GOP Chairman Joe Nosef promised the party would come together and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) also said “of course” he would support McDaniel if he is the nominee. 

But Democrats were gleeful already about the prospect of a McDaniel win, sending around a memo reminding reporters that fellow Republicans called McDaniel “ 'Dangerous,' 'Extreme,' Someone Who Associates With “White Nationalists & Segregationists' ” and even NRSC leadership had called his campaign “ 'Despicable,' 'Extreme' and 'Revolting.' ”

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National Republicans took a real risk in the fervor with which they railed against McDaniel, and whether they admit it or not, they’re praying their words don’t come back to bite them. 

Even in other races where incumbents or front-runners were upset and Democrats subsequently won in November — like the Indiana contest in 2012 or Nevada, Delaware and Colorado in 2010 — the vitriol between the two candidates was nothing like this race. And that’s exactly why Senate Democrats are feeling optimistic about former Rep. Travis Childers (D). A win in the Deep South is still a long haul, but after tonight Democrats could finally have the “Todd Akin” of the cycle they’ve been looking for to drag down other candidates. 

For more on tonight's primaries, where polls close in Mississippi, Maryland and Oklahoma at 8 p.m. and in Colorado, New York and Oklahoma at 9 p.m., read our primer on Mississippi and five questions that will be answered tonight in other races

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

AR-SEN (PRYOR): American Crossroads slammed Sen. Mark PryorMark PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE (D-Ark.) in a new ad Tuesday, accusing him of being “Obama’s rubber stamp” and voting with the president 90 percent of the time. The ad, which also identifies Pryor as the “deciding vote for Obamacare,” will run statewide backed by a $440,000 buy.

IA-SEN (OPEN): A coalition of environmental groups is targeting Republican candidate Joni Ernst (R) in a new ad. The spot accuses Ernst of having ties with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and the billionaire Koch brothers and of making promises to them that are “too extreme for Iowa.” It is part of a $1 million push in favor of Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyTrump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer Criminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship Trump's VP list shrinks MORE (D-Iowa).

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Kentucky might not have seen the last of Sen. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate confirms first nominees of Trump era The new Washington elite schmoozes over lunch Trump takes first official acts at signing ceremony MORE’s (R-Ky.) failed primary challenger, businessman Matt Bevin. He’s remained active in Kentucky politics since losing his long-shot bid against the senator in May, and his spokeswoman, Sarah Durand, did not shut the door on the option of him running again for office in the state when asked by Kentucky news outlet WFPL.

MN-SEN (FRANKEN): Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenJustice requires higher standard than Sessions Overnight Energy: Perry makes his case to lead Energy Dept. | Dems alarmed by spending cut plans Dems blast Trump plans for deep spending cuts MORE (D-Minn.) debuted an ad Tuesday touting his work to reform shady practices in Wall Street banks and credit rating agencies. “Wall Street wasn’t happy about that, but I don’t work for them. I work for you,” Franken says in the ad, which will run statewide. 

MT-SEN (WALSH): Sen. John Walsh’s (D-Mont.) campaign is out with an ad firing back at Rep. Steve Daines’s (R-Mont.) latest spot, which said Walsh “looked the other way” on female guardsmen who were mistreated under his watch. In Walsh’s ad, a woman who served with Walsh calls the spot “nothing more than a lie.” Walsh also wrote a letter to Daines accusing him of “swiftboat attacks” and asking him to meet face-to-face to discuss the ads — and included a letter from the Montana delegation signed by Daines praising Walsh’s work.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenTrump poised to reinstate 'global gag rule' on Roe v. Wade anniversary: report Trump country Dem takes risk by skipping swearing-in 5 billion reasons Rex Tillerson is wrong MORE (D-N.H.) released two ads Tuesday highlighting the senator’s work for mortgage reform in the state. The ads feature the testimonial of a Republican homeowner who claims Shaheen is the reason she didn’t lose her home of 14 years. 

Shaheen’s likely Republican opponent, Scott Brown, will pick up the endorsement of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney next week, according to a campaign email sent out to supporters Tuesday morning. Romney will join Brown at a campaign event next Wednesday.

NC-SEN (HAGAN): The Susan B. Anthony List is launching a new ad campaign accusing Sen. Kay HaganKay Hagan Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (D-N.C.) of holding a "fringe position" on late-term abortion. The anti-abortion group announced Tuesday that it will spend $100,000 on the ad, which profiles a couple, Ned and Rebecca Ryun, describing their daughter's premature birth at 24 weeks. 

OK-SEN (INHOFE): Expected to easily beat back his primary challengers this evening, Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeSenate teeing up Mattis waiver Lawmakers play nice at Russia hacking hearing Senate chairman meets Trump’s EPA nominee MORE (R-Okla.) released his first TV spot on Tuesday. The 30-second ad features the senator and aviation enthusiast in his plane, flying around the Sooner State, and emphasizes the 435 visits he’s made to towns since 2009. “It’s a little thing, just seats two, but most of the time it’s just me,” Inhofe says in the ad about his plane and his passion for flight. “I can hit more Oklahoma towns in a day, listen and help more people, than I could in a week if I was driving.“

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLast Congress far from ‘do-nothing’ Top aide: Obama worried about impeachment for Syria actions An anti-government ideologue like Mulvaney shouldn't run OMB MORE (R-Ohio) is contributing another $1.5 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee, a signal he’s nowhere near calling it quits. BoehnerJohn BoehnerLast Congress far from ‘do-nothing’ Top aide: Obama worried about impeachment for Syria actions An anti-government ideologue like Mulvaney shouldn't run OMB MORE told his colleagues of the donation in a closed-door conference meeting on Tuesday. The newly elected incoming majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), also ponied up $1.5 million, while three other top Republicans pledged $1 million each: conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersGOP waiting to hear from Trump on ObamaCare GOP recruitment goal: More women on ticket Crowd boos GOP rep at MLK Day event over ObamaCare repeal MORE (Wash.), Budget Committee chief Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP waiting to hear from Trump on ObamaCare Five takeaways from Trump's inauguration Hispanic Caucus members slam Trump after inaugural address MORE (Wis.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), chairman of the Financial Services Committee.

Meanwhile, the pro-Clinton super-PAC Priorities USA is making new contributions to outside groups for the midterms, Politico reports. President Obama’s 2012 chairman, Jim Mesina, the group’s co-chairman, is giving $250,000 to both the Senate Majority PAC and the House Majority PAC. 

IA-3 (OPEN): A third-party “liberty” candidate is running in retiring Rep. Tom Latham’s (R-Iowa) competitive open seat and could potentially siphon off votes from the Republican. 

MI-4 (OPEN): Retiring Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) endorsed state Sen. John Moolenaar (R) to succeed him. Camp called Moolenaar an “honest hard-working, proven conservative” who “really has a great track record of really solid decision making.” 

TN-3 (FLEISCHMANN): Rep. Chuck FleischmannChuck FleischmannHouse candidate wants to 'Make America White Again' House passes bill to combat ISIS recruitment online Legislation to combat ISIS propaganda faces pushback from Dems MORE (R-Tenn.) released his first television ad Tuesday, a positive spot touting the congressman as an example of the American Dream. Fleischman faces an August primary rematch with Weston Wamp, the son of the district’s former Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.). 

 

2016 WATCH

CHRISTIE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-N.J.) administration appears to be at the center of an investigation into securities law violations relating to a road repair project in New Jersey, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Manhattan district attorney are looking into whether Christie administration’s pressured the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to subsidize repairs to the Pulaski Skyway even though it wasn’t in the agency’s authority, the report said. 

CLINTON: Former President Clinton on Tuesday defended Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWomen's march takes over DC Michael Moore tears up copy of Washington Post at women's march Clinton thanks protesters ahead of women’s march MORE's recent comments on wealth, saying his wife is “not out of touch.” In a discussion with NBC's David Gregory as part of the Clinton Global Initiative, the former president backed up his wife's remarks about being “dead broke” when the couple left the White House. 

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Did This Happen In The Mississippi Senate Primary, Scooby Doo, Or A John Grisham Book?” —A Buzzfeed quiz on the strange race that finally ends tonight