June 27th, 2014
09:26 AM ET
6 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. Jstic

    What a crybaby. They have not proven ONE SINGLE FRAUDULENT vote, but are screaming about unethical and irregularities. What this whacko considers an irregularity is anyone who doesn't vote for him. Typical Teabagger, lots of harsh talk, threats and disinformation, but little or no truth and facts. Go home McDaniels, you lost.

    June 27, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. Tom Webster

    In my opinion, McDaniel is a snarky little creep. But aside from that for the moment, the entire concept of having political parties is getting a little out of hand in this country. We are being led into a kind of team sport mentality, where we are supposed to choose a side and stick with the whole pack of them blindly through thick and thin. I've been voting for nearly 50 years and I have yet to find a politician with whom I agree on all topics, let alone a party with which I agree on all topics. I consider the whole idea of closed primaries to be repugnant and stupid. We should be able to vote for whomever we choose in all elections. No party, nor all parties together, should be able to "own" any election. To do so interferes with the fundamental right to vote in a democratic society. Political parties should be viewed more as a special interest group than as a category. With a category you must be a member of one and only one. With a special interest group, you may be a member of as many as you like, from zero to all of them.

    We all have a stake in what goes on in any election. Therefore, we should be able to vote in as many or as few of them as we choose. Personally I agree with most Democrats on some things, most Republicans on other things, and the occasional 3rd party candidate on still others. I see no use whatsoever in being forced into a single category and I suspect that the same holds true, to a greater or lesser extent, for almost everybody. In fact political parties as they now stand are largely responsible for the gridlock and corruption of our government. I think it's time to declare that political parties in this country are now open shops and return them to being the loosely descriptive alliances that I believe they were intended to be.

    June 27, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. bill

    Hilarious how the GOP/Tea Party only want their individual votes to count, all other votes for the other candidate be damned. Funny also when they say that the "American people have spoken," actually only means a small radical extremist minority of the voters. Maybe the entire GOP/Tea Party/NRA/Fake Christian/Neo-Terrorists should just go back home to Syria or North Korea with all of their other open carry, sharia law buddies.

    June 27, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Jim

    You people who don't live in this state, just don't get it! You complain about Washington and how congress does nothing; that they are one big happy family living off the tax payer's dollar for life.....Thad Cochran is one of those lifetime politicians who has done nothing but bring hundreds of millions of dollars into this state; keeping those currently on welfare, on welfare for life.....a sin! And, he is obviously nothing more than a democrat! He and the democrats obviously believe in slavery, because slavery is the result of when you fund welfare, to keep welfare recipients on welfare, solely for their votes.........something Cochran has become very good at....this state receives more than any other state in the union, thanks to Cochran and other democrats..... conservatives in this state were trying to change that and the "welfare mentality" reputation attached to this state, as a result of the "good ole boys" system that Cochran uses to get his votes . But Cochran, a "republican" in sheep's clothing, showed his "true" political colors, after using scare tactics and lies, to solicit "democrats" not republicans, to secure his "meal ticket" in congress......he should be ashamed of himself and concede, but he won't because all he is there for, is his lifetime "meal ticket"........and "true" conservatives will not re-elect him again!

    June 27, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Why is it every time these people lose they cry about the results? They are still crying about Obama ...

    June 27, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Lib 4 Ever

    .......McDaniels lost...end of story.............

    June 27, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. dotofoz

    These primaries are paid for by taxpayers, and as long as that's true, then voters should be allowed to vote in any primary they wish. If the Republican party wants to only have Republicans choosing their candidates, then let them have a state convention paid for by the party.

    June 27, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. Paul

    If thee was illegal activity than have an investigation launched and/or file a lawsuit. Otherwise, stop whining and move on with your life.

    June 27, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    "Republicans are supposed to chose 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.
    ---------------------
    It would seem that a black person casting a ballot meets his definition of irregularity. This guy is a sore loser. He was thoroughly outsmarted. Voters expressed their dislike of him by voting against him. End of story.

    June 27, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Quixote

    Whiny little beotch. Typical bagger...stand on yer own two feet...ull yerself up bahy tha bootstraps........what? The gop swatted me down and the big money donors wont fund me??. Wah wahs wah.......

    If he believes he is what Mississippi needs he should run as an independent, or organize an actual party and run instead of mooching on the republicans.

    June 27, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I am a thurd genurashun Democrat from Biluskee Mississipee who is glad the Tee Partee is out. Don't kneed no won messin with my guvernmunt chec.

    June 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. argee

    Poor baby! Sore loser

    June 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. robert

    You opened the door for political retaliation for voters. Don't expect a picnic any more from voters. We might just take a Democrat to teach you a lesson, Thad. And as for Democrats, you opened the door for us to come mess with your primaries. It's war now!

    June 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. wfbaberfrankinsd

    I don't have any use for either of these guys. But, in McDaniels' defense, Mississippi law doesn't provide for recounts. The only thing a person can do to challenge election results is sue. So it's probably not fair to criticize him for pursuing what would be a legal right in most other states.

    June 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. Mike

    Democrats: Tell us three things – only three thing that you think the Democrats have done good for this Nation in the past 5 Obama Years!!! If not 3 things because that is too many, then 2 things, surely you can name 2 things in 5 years! Heath Care? Our Privacy? IRS? Sending support to our ambassador and those men who tried to defend him terrorist in Benghazi? Shutting down our coal plants? Not allowing us to develop the Keystone Pipeline? What is the heck is it about Obama you love so much? Lack of Leadership seems to be the new norm for this presidency.

    June 27, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Larry38363

    If this had been the other way around, what would have Cochran done? The fact that McDaniel's campaign was probably what has become common place for Tea Party standards should hopefully wake up the moderates of The Republican Party and return this party as a working player in American Politics. Otherwise, I sincerely believe the party has become so corrupt; so partisan; so extremist that it can no longer represent any of its members!

    June 27, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. Allie Watson

    It appears Mr. McDaniels is a little upset because he didn't think of that strategy first. Even if he had, I don't think the good African American citizens of Mississippi would have supported someone who insulted them. Now he cries foul because he is being criticized by his fellow Republican Party members who no longer support him. I say what comes around goes around Mr. McDaniels. God does not like ugly, and the results of this runoff is living proof!

    June 27, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Steve

    Seems that everyone is missing the point. There was corruption in the vote. If you cannot elect a candidate that will follow the law, what do you expect when he becomes a Senator.

    It was a typical establishment move to allow voters to cross party lines to allow your candidate to be elected. Those that advocate corruption in our elections and ultimately in Congress should lose their right to participate in elections.

    Hear that Lyndia/ Mn, Haliey BArber

    June 27, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    McDaniel is taking a big risk. If he is right and there was voter fraud he will look extremely good if not he will look extremely bad. It's either hero or sore loser. He will be labeled one of those.

    June 27, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  20. SuZieCoyote

    What a crybaby. Of course either party who finds themselves in a solidly [insert party] state will register with the majority party so their votes will count in some way. I am in a solidly Republican state; I am independent, leaning towards democrat (but these days they behave essentially the same, while spouting two different stories.) But in order to participate in the political process, I must be a registered Republican. This is not illegal, questionable or irregular. I register Republican so I can vote for the less odious choice.

    June 27, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    and the democratic party wants to change the way people vote without an I D. let this be a good example what the dem . party is trying to pull.

    June 27, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. joe

    well the state rules are the state rules, so the Tea Party should be happy this is a state run affair, that is one major platform they constantly champion. I'm sure he won't ask the Feds to come in and investigate as that would be highly contradictory of Tea Party values.

    June 27, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. D

    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.
    -----
    Since Mississippi does not register by party, how did they know? Or did you mean to say "black"? By the way, this is the same courthouse that one of McDaniels staffers, and two other people got "locked into" after hours. What were they doing, counting ballots?

    June 27, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  24. SuZieCoyote

    Of course either party who finds themselves in a solidly [insert party] state will register with the majority party so their votes will count in some way. I am in a solidly Republican state; I am independent, leaning towards democrat (but these days they behave essentially the same, while spouting two different stories.) But in order to participate in the political process, I must be a registered Republican. This is not illegal, questionable or irregular. I register Republican so I can vote for the less odious choice.

    June 27, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Silence DoGood

    Instead of TP whining and posturing, investigate, take out the invalid votes and see how it turns out.
    But no – the TP wants to take the long road to whip the entire radical right base into violent take over mode.
    They will be responsible of some nut job takes that seriously and grabs his gun......

    June 27, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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