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Tea party leader, 2 others, trapped in Mississippi courthouse

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hinds county courthouseA tea party officer and two others representing the challenger in a Senate primary became trapped in a courthouse in the middle of the night, hours after officials had gone home from counting votes, authorities said.

Janis Lane, Scott Brewster and Rob Chambers were locked inside the Hinds County Courthouse more than an hour after entering shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday through an unlocked door, said Othor Cain, spokesman for the sheriff's department, which is investigating.

Noel Fritsch, spokesman for candidate Chris McDaniel, said the three went to check on why some precincts hadn't been counted. Once inside, the door locked behind them and they had to call for help to get out. Other elections officials had locked up equipment and ballots and gone home around 11:30 p.m.

Lane is president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party and is a longtime supporter of McDaniel, who is trying to unseat six-term Republican Sen. Thad Cochran.

The McDaniel-Cochran race is going to a June 24 runoff because a third candidate received a small share of Tuesday's primary vote, preventing either of them from receiving the majority needed to win.

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