On Wednesday, state Sen. Chris McDaniel raised the specter of contesting Sen. Thad CochranThad CochranPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Overnight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill MORE’s (R-Miss.) win in their Tuesday primary runoff, but it’s likely an empty threat.

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The second-place finisher, who was trailing Cochran by 6,693 votes after The Associated Press called the race, said his campaign is going to “look into the [voting] irregularities to determine whether a challenge is warranted.”

"After we've examined the data, we will make a decision about whether and how to proceed,” said McDaniel. 

But that challenge will likely never materialize. For one, Mississippi has no statutes to force a recount because of a slim margin or other voting issues, meaning McDaniel will have to pursue such a challenge through legal avenues, on his own.

That’s an expensive endeavor — one that he’ll be hard-pressed to fund, with just over $60,000 cash on hand at the start of June.

The legal challenge he’d have to make is murky and hard to prove. Conservatives have alleged that some of Cochran’s vote came from Democrats who illegally voted in both the Democratic primary and the Republican runoff, and from voters who had no plans to support Cochran in the general, which they say is against Mississippi election law.

If McDaniel wants a future in state politics or elsewhere, it’s probably not in his best interest to engage in a messy, contentious legal fight at this point in his career. The chance that such a fight would reduce the comfortable lead Cochran holds are slim. And McDaniel is riding high — the new hero for Mississippi conservatives would likely turn out droves in his support if he were to run for statewide office next year, possibly challenging Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who backed Cochran. 

McDaniel may have run an inept Senate campaign, but his future could be bright — if he handles this moment properly. And that means avoiding antagonizing the establishment, wasting money he doesn’t have and embarrassing the conservative movement with a wild goose chase in the coming weeks.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

CO-SEN (UDALL): Generation Opportunity debuted two new ads Wednesday slamming Sen. Mark UdallMark UdallPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' Election autopsy: Latinos favored Clinton more than exit polls showed MORE (D-Colo.) for supporting policies that are harmful to young voters. The spots mimic similar ads the group has put out for Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (D-La.) and Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.), accusing the three senators of a spending problem and criticizing them for their support of ObamaCare. 

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Republican candidate Scott Brown released a longer version of the television ad featuring his sister LeeAnn on Wednesday. In the spot, Brown’s sister expands on the supportive role her older brother played in her emotional childhood, saying that without Brown she doesn’t think she would have gone to college or even graduated high school. “I love my brother,” she says at the ad’s close, “and I know he’ll be there for you like he has been for me.” 

ME-SEN (COLLINS): Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsCollins: I'm not working with Freedom Caucus chairman on healthcare Mexico: Recent deportations 'a violation' of US immigration rules White House denies misleading public in aircraft carrier mix-up MORE (R-Maine) picked up the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign on Wednesday. HRC President Chad Griffin praised Collins in a statement for her “pivotal role in advancing support for LGBT equality,” referencing her support for the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and her critical vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. However, unlike her challenger Shenna Bellows (D), Collins has not come out in favor of same-sex marriage.

MI-SEN (OPEN): Republican strategist Frank Luntz dubbed Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land’s (R) “Really” ad the “worst of the political process.” The ad mocks Land’s opponent Gary Peters’s charges that Land is waging a war on women with the simple defense that Land is a women herself. Luntz slammed the spot on "Fox and Friends" Tuesday night, saying “it doesn’t tell you anything about her, and it doesn’t communicate anything of substance.”

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

MI-3 (AMASH): Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashGreens take climate fight to GOP town halls US pressure on Saudis can help promote peace in Yemen Who will replace Chaffetz on Oversight? MORE (R-Mich.) is hit hard by primary opponent businessman Brian Ellis in an attack ad released Wednesday. The ad features a former Marine repeating comments that Amash is “Al Qaeda’s best friend in Congress” and slamming the congressman for voting against measures that would aide troops. 

VA-7 (OPEN): Cantor-slayer Dave Brat told The Washington Examiner that outgoing House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorBrat: New ObamaCare repeal bill has 'significant' changes Overnight Energy: Flint lawmaker pushes EPA for new lead rule House staffer, Monsanto vet named to top Interior posts MORE (R-Va.) “has been supportive in private and public” since the shocking primary upset. Following the primary, Cantor told CNN that “of course” he wants a Republican to fill the seat but did not indicate whether he would vote for Brat.    

NY-13 (RANGEL): The Associated Press called the race for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), giving him a narrow win over New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D), though Espaillat has yet to concede.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest, when asked if President Obama would now endorse Rangel after staying out of the primary, said “it is the policy of this White House that we typically support the Democratic candidate” but offered no indication as to whether Obama would support Rangel specifically.

MA-6 (TIERNEY): A new poll has Republican Richard Tisei leading Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) 45 to 40 percent, an increase in support for Tisei from an April survey that had the two candidates even at 44 percent of the vote. The poll also finds Tierney with a solid lead over his three primary competitors, holding 59 percent of the vote compared with closest challenger Seth Moulton’s 17 percent. 

 

2016 WATCH

CLINTON: Team Clinton is doing damage control on a series of comments by Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWeek ahead: US raises pressure on WikiLeaks Poll: 85 percent of Clinton supporters would vote for her again OMB director: Government shutdown not a 'desired end' MORE about the former first couple’s wealth. Bill ClintonBill ClintonLe Pen and the right wing hit a wall in French vote Bill Clinton jokes Clinton Center 'has been bugged' NYT: Comey distrusted Lynch on Clinton MORE said Tuesday his wife is “not out of touch,” after she drew criticism for describing her and her husband as “dead broke” upon leaving the White House.

BIDEN: Vice President Biden took a selfie with pop singer Katy Perry at the White House Tuesday ahead of her concert at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center. Perry has offered to craft a campaign song for possible opponent Hillary Clinton if she runs in 2016.

CONVENTION CITIES DOWN TO TWO: Dallas or Cleveland will host the 2016 Republican National Convention, the party announced Wednesday.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I don’t know him. He’s a gay guy, he met a guy here, they got married, and so he’s here. I guess he’s got nothing better to do so he runs for mayor. Ok. I don’t know what he has ever done. He has no roots here.”

—Ex-con/former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci (I), after announcing he’ll seek his former office, discussing one of his opponents