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. C KOLB

    Perry's comments were in response to statements made during another press conference by tea party Chairwoman Laura Van Overschelde, who said Thursday that an independent investigation found that hundreds of Hinds County voters had cast illegal ballots.

    "Looking at the poll books, we found some evidence we are concerned about," Overschelde said Thursday. "The investigation is still preliminary, but we have already found nearly 800 instances of voters who illegally voted in the June 23 election. We anticipate finding many more illegal votes in Hinds County, and we ask that the circuit clerks cooperate with us as we collect election data."
    Back in Hinds County on Friday, Perry accused Overschelde and the Tea Party of citing specific examples they knew to be a false representation of fraud. He said the inflated numbers they presented include human mistakes that were discovered and amended before the votes were tallied Tuesday night.

    "They know there are errors that happened that day," Perry said. "They also know those errors were caught and fixed before the votes were tallied. They can keep citing those numbers, but they are only showing their own ignorance."

    On Friday, he took to task the specific examples of fraud Overschelde was citing.

    "The numbers cited by the McDaniel campaign yesterday included 192 "illegal votes" Ð people that they claimed had voted in the Democrat primary on June 3, but then voted in the Republican runoff," he explained. "That's impossible. According to the certified results of the June 3 Democrat primary, there were only 37 Democrat primary voters at that particular precinct."

    Perry added that Overscheld was aware of this and other similar instances when she made her Thursday statements, "but continued with her charade trying to provide known inflated numbers."

    June 27, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Eric

    It's Mississippi... No one cares.

    June 27, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Randy

    What a big fat crybaby. You LOST and deservedly so.

    June 27, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. AmericanBlues

    @Jim – I am a registered Republican and if you are not disgusted by what they have become, you haven't been paying attention. Me? I no longer see any difference between them and the Democrats.

    June 27, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Anne

    Just for a little clarity for those spewing a lot of misinformation-
    First, in Mississippi you do NOT register by Party. "Party Affiliation: Party registration not required to vote in primary elections. However, voters must vote for a single party for both the initial primary and any run offs resulting from that primary."
    If you vote in the Primary, you have to chose whether to vote a Democratic ballot or a Republican ballot. (That would be noted in the election voter register roster & used to determine party eligibility for run-off voting.) Then during any run-off, you could ONLY vote in the same party's run-off that you voted in the Primary. Democrats who voted in the Democratic primary could not switch over to vote in the Republican run-off and vice-versa.
    However, if you did NOT vote in the Primary, then you can vote for whichever party you choose in the run-offs.
    McDaniel would have been happy to use this tactic for himself, but apparently doesn't like the fact that someone else was obviously a little more cunning & beat him to the draw.
    This happens in elections all over the country all the time. There is nothing new or illegal about it.
    Now Mr. McDaniel, maybe we can discuss how the Republicans have used illegal gerry-mandering in all the southern states to try to dilute minority voter effects & control election outcomes....

    June 27, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. charles

    For the last thirty years the Republican mantra has been why don't blacks vote for us. We can offer them more than the Democrats. Blacks need to vote Republican to advanced themselves. Now in 2014 its we lost because blacks voted Republican. Blacks can't vote Republican. The black votes need to be scrutinized and thrown out. In November of 2014 it will be why didn't blacks vote for us Republicans.

    June 27, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. scottoest

    It was an open primary. He's complaining about "irregularities" because he can't deal with that simple fact, and needs something to justify whining about the outcome.

    If the GOP wants only Republicans to vote, then don't make it an open primary. Until then? Suck it up. A bunch of the people whining about this result, were the same people calling on Republicans to "sabotage" Democratic primaries in the past.

    McDaniels can thank himself, for having policies so odious to minorities that they decided to turn out in droves for the runoff, just to make sure he didn't win.

    June 27, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Leroy

    Paging Rep. Darrell Issa...we have another "scandal" for you to investigate!

    June 27, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Mike

    Blacks just don't get it. A Republican candidate, who cares not one whit about their concerns, totally used them for his own agenda. Sounds pretty much like the whole of the Democratic party.

    June 27, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    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.
    There's just one minor problem with your conspiracy theory. The election was conducted by Republicans, and monitored by the Tea Party. Everything was all good, no problems were reported, until Cochran won the runoff. Suddenly, black voters have become irregularities when they vote for a Republican. I see the GOTP rebranding is proceeding on schedule.

    June 27, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. George

    If he had kept his mouth shut about reparations and atonement or non-atonement for the sins of slavery, he probably would have won.

    June 27, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. Roy Macedonia

    Typical Tea Party Election. Same crap Allen West Pulled in FL when he lost.

    June 27, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. GOP FAIL

    I play my cards right and determine which elections to vote in. Many times I purposely did NOT vote in Dem primary just so I could vote against the nutty nuts in a Rep primary or runoff. It's a free country and if the rules allow it, then GET OVER IT YOU WHINEY-BABY. This country is GREAT! The Tea-Punks are fascists and ignorant. They don't believe in math or science. Remember when Romney lost but the great statistician predicted an Obama win? That's because HE DID THE MATH! DO THE MATH TEA-Per's!!!! No one with a brain wants you.

    June 27, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    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.


    It is hard to believe that it WASN'T all that long ago for some of us.
    We've come so far ... and yet there are still those who would take us back.
    So far and not far enough.

    June 27, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Mississippi Association of Poll Workers

    Remember: Vote early, vote often!

    June 27, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. chivana

    Heaven forbid a career politician should lose their sacred position on the throne. Republican& Democratic career politicians are cut from the same cloth,only interest is protecting their power and influence-to h*ll with the working smuck.

    June 27, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Paula Kramer

    Republicans in Wisconsin insisted on laws to prevent voter fraud. A Wisconsin insurance executive who donated money to Republicans has been charged with 13 counts of voter fraud. According to the charges, he voted 5 times in the recall of Scott Walker. The man began voting fraudulently in 2011. Republican John Fund admitted that Republican politicians focused on voter ID in their fraud laws because more Republicans use absentee voting than Democrats. They mostly left absentee voting alone. Fund calls absentee voting the "tool of choice amongst fraudsters." The Wisconsin insurance executive voted fraudulently both in person and by absentee ballot.

    June 27, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Jim

    Want to bet that there were no irregularities found by those who voted for McDaniel just those Mississippi Blacks who voted for Cochran. Time for the Tea Party to take charge in America and take the South back to the days when there were no voting privileges for Minorities.

    June 27, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. Hillcrester

    The more the GOPhers fight with each other, the better. Their usual circular firing squad has become a series of assassination teams. I love it!

    June 27, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. jeff

    There is no good choice here if elect Cochran you get a poor old man with dementia.If you elect Mc Danials you get a younger man who must be demented.

    June 27, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Liberals Rig an election and its somehow the Tea Parties fault......Typical hypocrites.

    June 27, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. rosethornne

    Perhaps Mr Sour Grapes does not grasp the concept of his own state's law on "open primaries".

    It's not a difficult concept: anyone can vote in any primary, not just voters who are personally approved by the losing candidate.

    June 27, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Pokerdik2

    To MarkRB

    Checking voter rolls isn't as easy as it sounds. Many people might have the same or similar names. You need to check addresses and other info to confirm the person voted in the Dem primary. That takes time. No way McDaniels team has completed that process yet.
    I suspect they know their audience. He'll claim voter fraud, offer little in the way of evidence to support his claim and assume his idiot tea party backers will buy it. It's a good assumption. The goal isn't to win, it's to grab some of that sweet tea party cash

    June 27, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama

    Looks as if this article is going to slow up comments today. If I don't catch up with you, have a safe weekend. It's so good to have you back. I miss our little laugh fests.

    June 27, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Aleric

    Liberals Rig an election and its somehow the Tea Party fault, typical hypocrites................

    June 27, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
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