June 27th, 2014
09:26 AM ET
3 months 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. True Grit

    McDaniel may be a 2-term elected official, but he is not a "good ole' boy" That's where he was confused. How can you be surprised. The hard core tactics of the tea party will never be accepted by the American people, and the old timers know it.
    Problem with the younger generation is they are always in a rush. People don't trust "rush".

    June 27, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    MarkRB
    The point everyone on here is missing, is that if someone(white or black) voted in the democratic primary, they can't turn around and vote again in the Republican primary. All they need to do is check the voter tally sheets where you sign in to vote....if names appear on both primary voting sheets, the vote shouldn't count.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Did the dems actually have a primary election for Cochran's seat this year? I can't find anything about it on the interwebs.

    June 27, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Singleshot

    He said 1,000 in a Fox News interview last night. But oh yeah, I forgot...CNN doesn't really monitor the news.

    June 27, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. Lucas

    I challenge all blacks who voted for Cochran to vote for him again in the general election. Put your money where your mouth is. Be honest with yourselves instead of sabotaging the other side.

    June 27, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. albert jiminez

    vote stupid vote republican.simple as that

    June 27, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Sam

    These are the kinds of people aspiring to write law and policy for the whole of America.

    June 27, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Just one courthouse in Mississippi -The Jackson, (Hinds County) Courthouse reported almost 1000 illegal ballots were cast (by Democrats) in the first 24 hours. Each state has there own laws but apparently under the old or new democratic creed they can vote as many times as they want to in as many primaries as they want to. If this happen in any Northern state, you and I both know that there would be Federal Investigation taking place by now. But there again, under the Obama Administration and Federal Judicial System, nothing will happen because it is in the interest of the Democratic Party. Wake up America, your day is coming soon.

    June 27, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "You'd think that the entire GOP would be glad that Blacks somewhere in this nation are actually voting for them...period."

    You'd think so. But ... well, when "that one" got elected – twice – it kind of put a kabosh on blacks being allowed to vote. Not only do TeaPers not want blacks to vote Republican, they don't want blacks voting at all. I take voting rights very seriously. Indeed. There was a time in my grandmother's life that she was not allowed to vote.

    That whole GOPerville autopsy thingy ... was all show, no substance. That they did it to themselves (as evidenced by McDaniel's temper tantrum) is sweet (in a very sad kind of way).

    I agree with you: I don't know when I could see fit to vote Republican again. I won't say never, but as it stands today? I've seen enough to last whatever years I have left in me. Boehner et al actively courted these GOPerville people. For that, I can find no empathy for he or his party.

    June 27, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  9. Steve

    I'm sorry....... So, sorry...... If you want to play in the big leagues tea party children, you must take a lump every now and then.

    June 27, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. craig

    McDaniels sound like a really poor loser, he would have made a good republican

    June 27, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. Mike in Texas

    The reality is whoever of the two won the run off they would be elected Senator in November. African Americans looked at both candidates and said we wouldn't vote for either in November but we sure as hell don't want McDaniel being our senator. Their vote wasn't a vote for Cochran but a vote against McDaniel to keep him out of public office.

    June 27, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. Malory Archer

    Anonymous
    Just one courthouse in Mississippi -The Jackson, (Hinds County) Courthouse reported almost 1000 illegal ballots were cast (by Democrats) in the first 24 hours. Each state has there own laws but apparently under the old or new democratic creed they can vote as many times as they want to in as many primaries as they want to. If this happen in any Northern state, you and I both know that there would be Federal Investigation taking place by now. But there again, under the Obama Administration and Federal Judicial System, nothing will happen because it is in the interest of the Democratic Party. Wake up America, your day is coming soon.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If that's the case, then those 1,000 "illegal votes" don't count and weren't included in the final tally.

    June 27, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    The voter books show that many Democratic voters voted in the Democratic primary then crossed over and voted in the Republican race when their Democratic Part say that Cochran was going to loose. You can check out the facts from the Hinds County Court House.

    June 27, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  14. snowdogg

    "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."

    That is the law... nothing illegal about Democrats voting for GOP.

    June 27, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. Mary Rider

    McDaniel is lying . It is no way a person could have voted in the democrat primary and then voted in republican run off. They did have a few people that came to vote but turned away since they had voted in Dem, primary. McDaniel is just wanting to stir up more hate. That is all the Tea Party is full of hate and racist. Maybe if he hadn't had so many people that had taped him before with his racist talk rant, black people wouldn't have turned out to vote like they did.

    June 27, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. redmanrt

    Cochran will be treated as a pariah in the Senate.

    June 27, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  17. True Grit

    @ McDaniel...HAAAA HAAAAAAA...(in my Bart Simpson voicel)....suck it up and stop cryin'

    June 27, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. David

    McDaniel and his tea buddies need to understand two things..

    1. Find out what an open primary means. It means anyone of any party can vote. Open primaries were the brainchild of republicans, who insisted on having them.

    2. No Democrat would ever vote for a teabagger.

    You lost. Deal with it.

    June 27, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. Doc

    That's what you get with an OPEN primary. Either and all folks can vote for anyone on either party. I heard this same thing happened in Virginia. Democrats urged their folks to vote against the favorite. They did and now the Democrat candidate has a change to win in Virginia and the 3rd most powerful Republican representative stays home. Most folks are tired of the way Congress is conducting business and are ready to clean house!

    June 27, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. Larry L

    Quite often voting in the primary in a radically-red state is a waste of time. Mississippi Democrats voted to try to put forward a Republican who might be a little less of a radical right-wing bigot. Why would they not vote in the Republican primary?

    June 27, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. akgobears

    Seems you tea pottie people and your candidates got more whines than the pope got prayers as to why your part and those in it suck....

    June 27, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Martin

    Too much is at stake for the establishment ... namely money and power. They put the fix on McDaniel the same way they put the fix on Ron Paul. Always think big picture...Congress wants "no change...ever." Stop bickering and wake up. Regardless of how you feel about the Tea Party, a little bit of Tea Party is just what this country needs to get back on track finally challenging the status quo.

    June 27, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. dubarnik

    I'm a Democrat, through and through. A real leftist. But I don't like the idea of Democrats voting in a Republican primary. Primaries are about party politics. Each party, voting separately, should pick their nomination. I hope that Mississippi uses this fiasco to change their law so only registered party members vote in their party primary.

    June 27, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Court529

    @MarkRB: The only person missing a point is McDaniel. Where is his proof that any irregularities happened? Show the sign-in sheets where people voted in the Democratic primary and then voted in the Republican run off. McDaniel had 1,400 more votes in the primary and lost by 7,000 votes in the run off. Can he find 7,001 people in those records who voted in both primaries? I highly doubt it. He's a sore loser.

    As for the people saying that African Americans will not support Cochran in the general election: yes, I normally vote Democratic, but I will vote for the person I feel will best represent my needs–regardless of their party affiliation. I have voted for Trent Lott (before the scandal), Haley Barbour, and Thad Cochran (six years ago in the general and this year in the primary and runoff). I would have voted for John McCain, but he chose Sarah Palin as a running mate and I could not vote for any ticket that woman was on.

    June 27, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. Russell Hoover

    MC Daniel should go third party. The blacks in Mississippi traded the white slave owners for Federal Government slave owners in the form of welfare, food stamps, and many other programs. 49% of Mississippi is on some form of Government handout (Social Security is not a hand out).

    June 27, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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