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Mississippi Supreme Court ends Chris McDaniel’s challenge in GOP U.S. Senate runoff

State’s highest court upholds lower court ruling that McDaniel waited too long to file suit

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

mississippi mugJACKSON, Mississippi (CFP) — The Mississippi Supreme Court has ended State Senator Chris McDaniel’s attempt to overturn his loss in the state’s GOP primary runoff for the U.S. Senate to incumbent Senator Thad Cochran.

In a 4-to-2 decision handed down October 24, the state’s highest court agreed with a lower court that McDaniel waited too long to challenge the results from the June 24 runoff.

State Senator Chris McDaniel

State Senator Chris McDaniel

While saying McDaniel disagreed with the decision, his attorney, Mitch Tyner, issued a statement saying that the ruling would allow Mississippi conservatives to “move forward into 2015.”

The Cochran campaign issued a statement saying the ruling “reconfirms the voters’ choice of Thad Cochran as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.”

Certified results from the June 24 runoff showed McDaniel losing to Cochran by just 7,667 votes.

McDaniel led Cochran in the first round of voting on June 3. But the Cochran campaign came from behind by making direct appeals to Democratic and independent voters to cross over and vote in the runoff — a move that enraged McDaniel’s supporters.

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran

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 campaign contended that there were enough improper crossover votes to alter the outcome of the election.

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 FundFreedomWorks and the Club for Growth — that strongly backed McDaniel.

Cochran was one of five Southern Republican senators targeted in primaries this year. All five survived.

Cochran is facing former Democratic U.S. Rep. Travis Childers in the general election. Polls show him with a double-digit lead.

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