June 27th, 2014
09:26 AM ET
4 years ago

McDaniel says 'hundreds' of irregularities found in Mississippi race

(CNN) - Three days after Mississippi's bitter Republican Senate primary runoff ended, the challenger in the race refuses to concede, charging that "this was not a fair election. Activity was illegal, at worst. Unethical, at best."

And in an exclusive interview with CNN affiliate WLOX, state Sen. Chris McDaniel said he was shocked at how fellow Republicans verbally attacked him after he announced a primary challenge against six-term Sen. Thad Cochran.

McDaniel, who enjoyed strong support from tea party and anti-establishment groups, narrowly edged out Cochran in the June 3 primary, but with neither man cracking 50% (there was a third Republican candidate on the ballot who grabbed 1.5% of the vote), the contest moved to Tuesday's runoff, which Cochran won by fewer than 7,000 votes.

Tea party leader connected to photo conspiracy involving Cochran's wife found dead from possible suicide

Cochran's victory was aided votes from African-American Democrats, who were actively courted during the runoff campaign by pro-Cochran forces. According to Mississippi law, voters are not required to register with a political party, and anyone who doesn't vote in a primary election can cast a ballot in either party's runoff.

But McDaniel told WLOX on Thursday that his camp has already found irregularities in Tuesday's election.

"Republicans are supposed to choose the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate. That's not what happened here. Thirty-five- to 40,000 Democrats jumped into this race and apparently tried to decide it. They have their own primary. We have ours. What we're looking for right now is irregularities. We already found hundreds, and we're going to keep looking," McDaniel said.

McDaniel added that those irregularities include people who first voted in the Democratic primary, then illegally crossed over to vote in the Republican runoff.

McDaniel repeated his earlier vow to use every legal maneuver available to fight Tuesday's results, adding that "integrity of elections matters. It always has mattered."

And McDaniel he said that the pro-Cochran forces should be ashamed of the strategy they used in urging black Democrats to vote for the senator.
"They called me a racist. They used race-baiting tactics. They scared people to the polls. That's no way to behave. They used people, and that's no way to behave," he said.

More than 61,000 more people voted in Tuesday's runoff than in the June 3rd Senate primary. It's extremely rare that turnout increases in a runoff election. And turnout in Mississippi's majority African-American districts increased at a much higher rate than overall turnout.

But those who backed Cochran defend their actions.

In an interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash on Wednesday, Henry Barbour, the nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who steered the pro-Cochran Mississippi Conservatives, said, "In America, we have a right to vote. And in Mississippi, we don't register by party. So whites and blacks get to vote in the Republican primary if they decide, and I think the Constitution gives them that right. So, I'm afraid he's [McDaniel] wrong, I mean, people have a right to vote and I'm damned proud to have asked them for their support."

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

And Barbour said that some Democrats may have been converted.

"I'll tell you, some of the Democrats that we were recruiting to vote for Sen. Cochran - some of them have called me talking about switching," Barbour said. "This is how you grow."

In the interview with WLOX, McDaniel also said he has "no hard feelings" toward Republican leaders in Mississippi, but that he is still shocked at how they attacked him.

"I never thought that me, as a two-term Republican elected official, would be treated the way I was. It was character assassination. They [fellow Republicans] attacked me every chance they got. They ridiculed me. They mocked me. And that was an about-face from the way they treated me just prior to my primary challenge."

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

Filed under: 2014 • Chris McDaniel • Mississippi • Senate Primaries • Senate Race • Thad Cochran
soundoff (581 Responses)
  1. Tom Webster

    @Adam, regarding your comment ". . . in Mississippi you MUST, by law, support the candidate in the general election that you did in the primary" – are you sure about that? I don't see how anyone could possibly make a law that stupid. What if the person you vote for in the primary doesn't make it to the general election, for whatever reason? What if you change your mind based on events that occur after the primary? How could such a law possibly be enforced? Surely you must be mistaken. Tell me it isn't so!!

    June 27, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Unbelievable

    Wow – can you imagine how totally dysfunctional the senate would be with this McDaniel character? "I am going to hold my breath until we drop bombs on North Korea. So do it now!"

    June 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Blind Squirrel

    Translation...they cheated harder than we did and I am mad about that.

    June 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. conoclast

    So now what we're seeing is that Southern trailer-park republicans can't even abide by THEIR OWN rules; why is the civilized world not surprised?

    June 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Rick

    Can't have it both ways, either you do or don't have to register to vote in the runoffs. According to this article you do not need to register to vote in runoffs, where does it say if you voted in primaries as a Democrat you can't vote in the runoffs as a Republican? Clarify the law or change it.

    June 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. ChrisM

    Tea party leader Mark Mayfield and McDaniels associate, accused of dirty tricks in the Mississippi U.S. Senate race has died. The TPers are droping like flies.

    June 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. jbq2

    Mr. Barbour is way wrong if he thinks that Blacks will switch parties especially in Mississippi. Mr. McDaniel has a point if large numbers of Democratic voters voted in the primary and then came back and voted illegally in the runoff.

    June 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. Malory Archer

    To all you anti-Tea Party folks calling them racists etc. Go to a Tea Party Rally and call one of their Black, Latino or Asian members a racist to their face.


    I remember a tea party rally in the run up to the 2008 presidential elections. While Tampa Bay Channel 8 spokesperson was reporting LIVE from the rally, someone in the crowd shouted for candidate Obama "sit down, boy" – ON LIVE TELEVISION!!!

    June 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Maybe Mississippi should change their primary system – go to a "Top Two" primary system where the 2 winners go on to the general election ballot. Washington used to have open primaries where voters would cross over and vote for a candidate in either party. Well the parties didn't like that and sued. The court then ruled that Washington would have a top two system where the top two winners go on to the general election ballot. You could have two candidates from the same party on the ballot. Hasn't happened so far in Washington, but it could.

    June 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. Ray

    Jim what article did you read? This election was between a Republican conservative and Tea Party Republican. A same party runoff, there was no liberal Democrat running.

    June 27, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. Luigi

    Yup, sore, poor loser in the sandbox. These TPers seem to think they have some kind of divine blessing to be automatic winners. Vitriole will not get the TPers very far.

    Suck it up dude

    June 27, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. David

    If you are a Democrat in a state where every statewide office gets won by a Republican I think you have every right to vote in the Republican primary, because you know whoever wins the primary will win the general election.

    June 27, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. mark

    Funny that he did not mention a single irregularity! Not one detail!!! He is such a LIAR!!!

    June 27, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Sidney Hooper

    "integrity of elections matters. It always has mattered." No truer words can be spoken. I became a Democratic Party Precinct chairman in the 1970's because of all the corruption I saw when I voted. I ran that precinct's elections for several years until I found a replacement with the ethics to care about honest elections. What Cochran did was legal, but unethical and clearly un-American. The whole state of Mississippi must be barfing right now knowing that Cochran will probably be their senator. All I can think about Cochran is, "The man has no character, but at least he'll vote with the Republican leadership on most issues."
    By the way, I now am a precinct chairman for the Republican Party. Like JFK once said, "Sometimes party loyalty demands too much."

    June 27, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  15. Jim M

    Sounds like McDaniel is complaining because Cochran ran a smarter campaign.

    June 27, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. jbq2

    Mr. Barbour is way wrong if he thinks that Blacks will switch parties and vote Republican especially in Mississippi. Mr. McDaniel has a point if indeed it is proven that large numbers of Democratic voters voted in the primary and then came back and voted in the runoff of a different party. It is strange that some 60,000 more voters voted in the runoff.

    June 27, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Bob

    This guy is talking about others' ethics when his buddies broke into a nursing home to take pics of his opponent's wife!?! Pot, meet kettle.

    June 27, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. Nela0511

    Maybe Democrat crossover votes put Thad over the top or just maybe the citizens of Mississippi felt that billions of Federal dollars the poorest state in the union accesses are not such a bad thing. Those dollars keep us just barely above Third World status and our Senators are still obligated to REPRESENT ALL OF US.

    The GOP was a party of principle at one point. Actually 'at one point' the GOP was the party of principles that brought us ... voting rights ... EPA ... desegregation etc. Now, the GOP is a party of outlandish, moralistic, secessionist, armed, hateful party of gun happy-ready-to-fire, anti-United States party that wants to dismantle our democracy.

    Reagan would indeed be considered a liberal by the standards of today's Republican right wing. He raised the debt ceiling 18 times and raised taxes 11 times, one of them being the biggest raise ever at the time. Reagan also increased government jobs.

    June 27, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. HoustonOilMan

    McDaniel looks creepy in that picture like he's about to say "I want to suck your blood".

    June 27, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    I feel sorry for them. They have been angry about election results every time they lost...it started with Obama...and now from his own party. Even election of old white man from their own party is not god enough for them.

    June 27, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. Mike

    The only irregularity was McDaniels imbedded hatred which cost him.

    June 27, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. M

    Tea Party candidates have a solid record of LOSING, even in normally Republican states and even in toss-up elections. Examples are O'Donnell in Delaware, Akins in Misourri, Anlge in Neveda and Mourooch in Indiana. Each and every one of those should have been won by a Republican.

    To make latters worse, the Tea Party people will not vote for a Reublican candidate who defeats one of them. They "make a statement" to the effect that it is thier way or no way. They are an embarrsement to the Republican Party.

    McDaniel, by his actions and statements over the years did himself in. He advocated being a "purist", therby forfieting any consoderation by middle-of- the roaders and now whines about losing. He did not represent core Republican values but rather extremes. He complains out outside influences and accepts fundong from people like the Club for Growth.

    June 27, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. yippeeskip

    Sounds like "sour grapes" to me...

    June 27, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. Think!


    Wrong! The Dems that voted did NOT vote in the democratic primary. Many of those democrats didn't vote because they didn't think the Democratic nominee really matters, as it's a solid Republican county. Speaking of getting facts before commenting....

    June 27, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. Tommyboy

    Liberals on here like to vent about how awful the Tea Party is? Keep drinking the KoolAde. Your messiah, his attorney general, Harry Reid, Pelosi, Lois Lerner, et al are proven LIARS trying to use the ALINSKY/Soros model to ruin our country. You will be whining when the IRS comes for you! And you support the lies and incompetence? Who are the real unAmericans? Not the Tea Party. 98% of blacks vote and support Obama, Is that not racist when he is ruining the black middle class and betraying our country? November cannot come soon enough.

    June 27, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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