McDaniel slams supporters of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran for “dirty tricks”
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
JACKSON, Mississippi (CFP) — Citing widespread voting irregularities, State Senator Chris McDaniel is asking the Mississippi Republican Party to overturn the results of the June 24 primary runoff and declare him the U.S. Senate nominee instead of incumbent Senator Thad Cochran.
“They asked us to put up or shut up. Here we are. Here we are with the evidence,” McDaniel said at an August 4 press conference. “What we’re going to show is a pattern of conduct on the part of a number of people that demonstrates a problem with this election. The evidence is clear.”
“We saw the dirty tricks. We saw the dirty money come from Washington D.C.,” he said. “Through the actions they took, they moved more than 40,000 Democrats into the Republican primary, and in so doing, mistakes were made.”
McDaniel led Cochran in the first round of voting on June 3. But after making direct appeals to Democratic and independent voters to cross over and vote in the runoff, Cochran erased McDaniel’s lead and won by 7,667 votes.
About 67,000 more people voted in the runoff than in the primary, and in Hinds County — which includes the predominantly black city of Jackson — Cochran’s margin of victory was 11,000 votes, nearly double what it was in the first round.
State law only allows voters to cross over to vote in the Republican runoff if they didn’t vote in the Democratic primary in the first round. McDaniel’s attorney, Mitch Tyner, said there were at least 3,500 crossover votes that should not have been allowed.
Tyner also said another 9,500 votes were “irregular,” and 2,275 absentee ballots were improperly cast. Those votes, together, are more than Cochran’s margin of victory.
McDaniel is asking the executive committee of the Mississippi Republican Party to declare him the winner, rather than calling for a new election.
“We anticipate that after they review the challenge that they’ll see Chris McDaniel clearly, clearly won the Republican vote on the runoff,” Tyner said. He said the state party doesn’t rule on the challenge in 10 days, McDaniel will go to court to overturn the election.
McDaniel also asked the executive committee to hold a public hearing to consider the evidence his supporters have collected.
“This is an opportunity for our party to take the lead on honest, good and transparent government,” he said.
Responding to McDaniel’s challenge, Mark Garriga, an attorney for Cochran’s campaign, said “we are dedicated to the defense of the votes of those Mississippians who voted on June 24 for Thad Cochran as their United States Senator, an election which has been as thoroughly reviewed and examined as any in modern Mississippi history.”
“The filing of this challenge marks the point where this matter moves from an arena of press conferences and rhetoric into a setting where nothing matters but admissible evidence and the rule of law,” Garriga said in a statement.
The bitter Senate race in Mississippi pitted Cochran and the state’s Republican establishment against Tea Party activists and outside conservative groups — such as the Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth — that strongly backed McDaniel.
Cochran was one of five Southern Republican senators targeted in primaries this year. Four of them survived, with a fifth race to be decided August 7 in Tennessee.
View video of McDaniel’s press conference: