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. Paul

    This open primaries should be outlawed in all states and districts no good can come from it and it isn't genuine IMO. The same democrats that voted for Cochran in the primary most likely will not in the general regardless of if it's a red or blue district. Basically American voices were not listened too this has happened to democrats too.

    Just stop open primaries no good can come from it

    June 27, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Jim

    He's angry because fellow Republicans attacked HIM? What does he think the Tea Party is doing to "establishment" Republicans? Total hypocrite!!!!

    June 27, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda Minnesota:
    I'm with you on the importance of voting. Many of us can say that we remember a time when our PARENTS weren't allowed to vote. But I know you know your history.
    Here's something else that "cracks" me up (not really): folks trying to differentiate between Tea Party and Republicans.
    It was my understanding that the Tea Party were the Republican's well-funded, crazy, racist cousins.

    June 27, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Lolo

    @Lucas you can vote for the crazy Tea Party candidates, but that does not mean that everyone else has to. They voted for the lesser of two evils and that is okay with me. You and your nutty friends are so racist it is pathetic. Also you don't have to ever worry about blacks or any other minorities joining your KKK Klan (AKA GOP/TP ) period. In November peopple will be lined up to make sure the crazies stay out of office. If you want to blame someone, blame those nuts who talk out the side of their necks to try and get elected and quit bringing back the same old loser to run for office.

    June 27, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. Beentheredonethat

    Tommyboy failed to mention from the numerous articles all over the internet about the election that conservatives and liberals alike vent about how awful the Tea Party is. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid. McDaniel lost because people went to the polls to vote, egad, how horrible that people found a way to legally vote afterall! I wonder what outcome McDaniel hopes for when the people made their choice clear.

    June 27, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    All tea partiers there should vote for the democrat to spite Cochran. What a moggot. I think I will change to being a democrat because of the way the rinos treat the new guys.

    June 27, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    The Tea Party folks are now saying and doing things as though they are pure like the driven snow. What about the arrest of campaign officials of McDaniel camp? Why did they take pictures of a hapless and helpless disabled woman? How did the Tea party operatives get locked into the county building at wee hours of the morning? They need to learn to take a punch. This is all sour grapes. McDaniel will soon be forgotten and may even lose his race for whatever state office he now holds. This is totally a bratty intemperate behaviour that even school student leaders avoid. Fighting is one thing but continuing the fight, after the bout has been called, is insanity.

    June 27, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. t3chn0ph0b3

    Voting is a cherished right until it doesn't go your way, right Tea Party fascists?

    June 27, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. paul

    Oh cry me a river. This is the same tactic employed by teapublicans in other states where they have open primaries. Or did you forget Rush's operation chaos? Truth is the teapublicans do not want blacks and most other minorities to vote at all.

    June 27, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Drake

    Cry baby. Any way possible to keep the neo-confederates from destroying this country is fair game in my book. It's not like the teabaggers are above dirty tactics.

    June 27, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. EdwardTr

    My county Dupage IL. is mostly Republican and I usually vote in Republican primaries but I vote mostly for Democrats in general election.

    June 27, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. ART

    Thank God this MsDaniel lost ,and what a sore loser he is .One thing he did say that was spot on was that this is definitely not the party of Reagan, Reagan would be spinning around in his grave if he saw what has become of the GOP today. a bunch of ignorant yahoos like Ted Cruz have infiltrated the party and made it a laughingstock of American politics.

    June 27, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. Jurban

    McDaniels should run as in the November election as a Independent Conservative. I bet Cocham will not get the Democrat vote then. It's been done before.

    June 27, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. nandi4crc

    The Tea Party folks are now saying and doing things as though they are pure like the driven snow. What about the arrest of campaign officials of McDaniel camp? Why did they take pictures of a hapless and helpless disabled woman? How did the Tea party operatives get locked into the county building at wee hours of the morning? They need to learn to take a punch. This is all sour grapes. McDaniel will soon be forgotten and may even lose his race for whatever state office he now holds. This is totally a bratty intemperate behaviour that even school student leaders avoid. Fighting is one thing but continuing the fight, after the bout has been called, is insanity.

    June 27, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. Mike

    THINK: ....You really do need to think.
    LUCAS: .. you said "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." – I AGREE, but that will not happen because they are trying to rig all elections in this country like elections held in third world countries. The have NO respect for the American Judicial System, our laws or our people. Once a smooch (taker of free stuff instead of worker for it) you will do anything to steal, even a election.

    June 27, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. Fred Evil

    "Republicans are supposed to chose the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate."
    Not according to the law.

    June 27, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. Troy P

    "They" have their own primary? Dude, you don't win by shrinking your electorate. What a doooomass.

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

    Enough with the sour grapes already. You lost. Whimpering about it makes you not only a loser, but a poor loser. Why not just accept the the majority of Americans don't want anything to do with your racist, fundamentalist, white-supremacist agenda?

    June 27, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. ben

    Primaries should be illegal. Both parties suck and the primaries are just a tool for keeping anyone else from running

    June 27, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. AmericanBlues

    99.99% of Blacks do not vote Republican, ESPECIALLY Mississippi Blacks! It was pure corruption to determine what the outcome of the Republican primary would be, when they had no business voting in this primary at all. I smell a rat and that rat smells a lot like Elitist Republican politicians on "The Hill". They despise the Tea Party for their Conservative beliefs of smaller Government and lower taxes. I mean after all, making money and power when you are a politician aren't exactly achieved by being honest.

    June 27, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Jvan

    This is not about how many Democrats voted for Cochran, it is about how many BROKE THE LAW and voted in both primaries. Voter fraud? How surprising. McDaniels has a right to be outraged. They've already found over 1000 illegal votes in only 1 county. He lost by only 7,000 votes. There were reportedly 25,000-30,000 Democrats who voted for Cochran, do the math. There's a good chance he may have actually won.

    June 27, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. omeimontis

    If it is illegal to vote in the runoff after voting in a Democratic primary, then it would be equally illegal to vote in the runoff after voting in the Republican primary. Therefore McDaniel has no case. Nothing in the law of the state of Mississippi says that only Republicans can decide who the Republican nominee is.

    June 27, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. so much for honesty

    Grow a backbone and think man, It's American politics at its very best. Not fair, OMG how childish.

    June 27, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Tom

    Have another Republican congressional investigation. The Democrats have moved on.

    June 27, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. mlawson447

    This guy is really coming off as a big crybaby. Not only was he a sore loser, but now he is whining about how his fellow republicans have treated him. So he was "ridiculed and mocked." Well boo hoo. Politics is a rough game, and has never been for the weak of heart. If you are thin skinned and get your feelings hurt easily, then you should heed the saying "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

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