- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The president of the Mississippi Tea Party said Monday that state Republican chairman Joe Nosef needs to either remain neutral in the Republican U.S. Senate primary or step down.

Laura Van Overschelde said she thinks Nosef is favoring incumbent Thad Cochran over challenger Chris McDaniel. Van Overschelde supports McDaniel. In a news release and in an interview with The Associated Press, she said Nosef has gone on TV and radio shows to criticize McDaniel but has not raised questions about Cochran’s record.

“Why can’t he call on Thad Cochran to explain many of the votes he’s had?” Van Overschelde said to AP.

Nosef said he’s not playing favorites before the June 3 primary.

“Anyone who has paid close attention to our U.S. Senate primary knows that I’ve not only stayed neutral with regard to the candidates but also worked relentlessly against efforts to divide our party,” Nosef said in an email.

Nosef also said he believes there’s no consensus among tea party supporters for what Van Overschelde is saying. She said there was not a vote of Mississippi Tea Party leaders but she issued the statement after having extensive conversations with top members.

McDaniel, who was elected to the state Legislature in 2007, says Cochran has contributed to the federal debt.

Cochran was elected to the Senate in 1978 after six years in the House. He is a former Senate Appropriations Committee chairman.


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