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. bdby

    Sounds like sour grapes to me. When a democratic follower votes for a REPUBLICAN that just shows you how much they fear their own party and rightly so. Six years of this KINGS rule has just about pushed this country into the ditch.

    REPUBLICANS WILL RULE IN NOVEBER !!!!

    June 27, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    But it was ethical and fair for the tea party operatives to take pictures of Cochran's wife, for what purpose?. Always laying blame on others for our own short comings. Plain and simple he ran a right of right anti everything race and lost, not to mention his boy committed suicide..

    June 27, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. charles116

    McDaniels needs to STOP having stooges take pic
    of demented old ladies in nursing homes before using the word ETHICS.

    June 27, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. mike

    those irregularities include people who first voted in the Democratic primary, then illegally crossed over to vote in the Republican runoff.
    Well match up the names and addresses and to their ID to find out if true? Oh wait No id needed, oh well cant prove it so it must not be true huh libs!

    June 27, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Jason Young

    Thank goodness he doesn't have any hard feelings.

    June 27, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. AmericanBlues

    It's amazing what a bucket of chicken will still get you.

    June 27, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. kinthenorthwest

    Well well well - Looks like the GOP will stoop down to dishonesty too when it comes to trying to save one of their good ole boys...
    Everyone should call Governor Bryant and demand that he allow an audit of the votes. 601.359.3150, for it seems that Bryant doesn't want the auditors to look into certain counties.
    Everyone should also contact the GOP to tell them that this is not the way to win an election or instill faith from the American people.

    June 27, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Zander Nickels

    Remember- vote McDaniel and vote often!

    June 27, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. Tony Manero

    McDaniels: "The election wasn't fair because I didn't win . . . " "Black voters were encouraged to vote . . should they be on cotton farms, checking the mail box for monthly checks, or something." 'And Democrats voting ? thinking this is a real election ?"

    June 27, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. scaramooch

    Oh good ......let's hope they shoot each other with those GUNS they love so much. !!.........

    June 27, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Hugh

    I think McDaniel should run as an Independent or write-in candidate to make sure that Cochran does not have another term even though I am a conservative and hope the Republicans gain control of the Senate this year. As far as the blacks that voted in the primary – it was not a vote against McDaniel it was simply doing what their masters, the Democrats, told them to do.

    June 27, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. Mike

    Why was me post deleted? Was it because I told everyone that they could find out the truth about over 1000 illegal votes being cast by Democrats in the first 24 hours of the election? Everyone...Call the Jackson, MS (Hinds Country) Court House and ask if there were hundreds of illegal ballots cast in this one County. Some democrats are well know for casting illegal ballots and voting 2, 3, or more times. Look at the convictions after the Presidential Election.

    June 27, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. Mike

    If you want fair, go to a carnival.

    June 27, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. Ned

    There is only one irregularity in this election and that is Mr. McDaniel himself.

    June 27, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. Patrick

    One can only vote in your party's primary. In the runoff of said primary anyone can vote? I'd revisit that. No matter the party only those who are registered for the political party should be deciding who is running for election in that party.

    June 27, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. bill oreally

    LOL.......The BUSINESS wing of the party just threw the Tea Party wing under the bus. Of course they, the BUSINESS wing of the party, knows full well the Tea Party has a very short memory along with a "Yeller Streak" down their backs and will support any "R" in November.

    June 27, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. Rhyas

    Funny, I'll bet he LOVED it when the Republicans were voting in the Democratic primaries back in 2008... What Rush called "Operation Chaos"...
    the STATE controls the rules, no rules were broken.. you lost.. have a great day... idiot

    June 27, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. RocketJSquirrel

    Sour grapes. Sore loser. Cry baby.

    June 27, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. daphnerp

    Tea Partiers are very quick to verbally attack anyone who opposes them. But once they are being verbally attacked...whoa! That is unfair. What a baby...McDaniel needs to grow up.

    June 27, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. jagsgrl

    the republican party is a hot mess

    June 27, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    @Mick: Totally wrong. The only people scared of the Tea Party are Republicans. What happened Tuesday is just the tip of the backlash of anger towards and frustration with The Tea Party. You guys threaten people to get your way entirely too much. Nobody except Islamic extremists or terrorists likes government by cowardice. Take heed.

    June 27, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. kinjirurm

    OK, will someone do us all a favor and cry him a river?

    June 27, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    Yeah, they did. I found this article:

    "Travis Childers has won the Democratic primary in ... If elected in November's general election, Childers would be ... Mississippi State Senator ... "

    McDaniel's is suggesting those that didn't vote in the Republican primary ought not to be allowed to vote in the run-off. I doubt he's going to take it any further than scream for media attention. This is the same stuff Limbaugh urged folks to do during the Obama/Clinton open primaries. Funny how it works FOR them, but all hell breaks out when the other side does it.

    June 27, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. Blahblah

    Wow. Reading some of the comments here really tells me the reason we have so many idiots in congress. Our citizens know almost NOTHING about their own government or the election process. Please LEARN!! We need more EDUCATED people in this country – not less. Sure, it can be a big pain in the rear, but this is OUR country we're talking about! How can we wonder why the Tea Partiers are so strong?? They may be nuts, but they obviously CARE! The rest of us better start caring pretty soon too or else they'll be in control soon!

    June 27, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. Tom Legare

    If McDaniels wants to see un-ethical all he has to do is look in the mirror...

    June 27, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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