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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – The president of the Mississippi Tea Party is calling on state Republican chairman Joe Nosef to either remain neutral in the Republican U.S. Senate primary or step down.

In a statement Monday, tea party leader Laura Van Overschelde says she thinks Nosef is favoring incumbent Thad Cochran over challenger Chris McDaniel.

Nosef says he’s not playing favorites before the June 3 primary. He says he has worked “relentlessly” to against efforts to divide the Republican Party.

Nosef says he believes there’s no consensus among tea party supporters for what Van Overschelde is saying.

Van Overschelde is supporting McDaniel, who 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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