June 27th, 2014
09:26 AM ET
5 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. iceload

    McDaniel should pull up his big boy pants and remember all the attack adds that enabled him to win before.

    June 27, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. KevIn

    Vote libertarian people. Smaller the government the better

    June 27, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Eric

    runoff elections are separate votes from the primary, in that state you can vote in each election, no matter the party.

    June 27, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. Harvey Tabasky

    Is Mayfield's suicide one of the irregularities McDaniel found? Too bad he can no longer testify against this creep.

    June 27, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. Rogue351

    It is silly to think any of these elitist political figures are going to play fair on anything. More so the tea party who's main goal is to start a war in our boarders.

    June 27, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. david saint

    lol this guys people get caught in the courthouse, with the ballots, in the middle of the night no less, and he is talking about "irregularities"??!? hahahaha

    June 27, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Burbank

    These Tea Party crazies sure know how to whine! Make me sick!

    June 27, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. Tom Bukowski

    When will he stomp his feet and cry?

    June 27, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. ANNIER

    Reagan is single-handedly responsible for allowing religion to infiltrate politics in the USA. If not for him lending his ear to the evangelicals, starting w/Billy Graham, the MESS today would never have happened! The GOP only has itself to blame for today's religious L O O N S who hijacked their party. In the past, I have voted Republican if I felt the candidate was more in line with my views. Today, I wouldn't touch any of them with a ten-foot barge pole! As for John McCain, why would a true American hero inflict that nitwit from Alaska on his country?

    June 27, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Thom

    States should not be paying for political parties to choose their candidates. Let the parties, with their hundreds of millions in special interest donations hold their own elections. Supporting these two major parties with tax payer money this way is one of the reasons why they have such a hold on the system that keeps minor parties from taking root and growing.

    June 27, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. lucy two

    Hey, McDaniels contact the NRA will loan you a firearm and you can join your buddy in HELL.

    June 27, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. liam0530

    If it didn't occur to McDaniel that some Democrats would side with Cochran in order to eliminate him, then he shouldn't be in politics. Why does he assume that the votes for the candidate who stepped down would automatically go to him?

    June 27, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    you can be a gracious loser or a sore loser. either way you are a loser

    June 27, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    He wants ethics in politics?? LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!

    June 27, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. NOTAGOPFAN

    "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," McDaniel said.

    That's a tactic straight out of the GOP playbook. This time a fellow republican fell victim to that scenario. Just wait til the general election and that same tactic will be used. I believe McDaniel's loss had to do with the fact that people don't want the Tea Party in office. Plain as that. What McDaniel needs to do now is quit whining and move on.

    June 27, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. ChrisM

    On No, black Americans voted Against the racist McDaniel. Imagine that!!

    June 27, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. dct

    you can be a gracious loser or a sore loser. Either way, you are a loser

    June 27, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. GOP FAIL

    I'm just taking a WAG here, but if there were any irregularities, it certainly wasn't ALL 6,000 votes. The guy WINS with or without a few irregularities. GET OVER IT.

    June 27, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. endofliferitual

    OK, well if there are irregularities then prove it to the authorities. But reading the article, his main complaint continues to be that the primary is an open one. Those are the rules. Change them if you can, but don't whine about them after the fact.

    June 27, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. huey johnston

    He wants ethics in politics?? LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!

    June 27, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Patriot

    It is a measure of how dishonorable Thad Cochran is, that he would seek and rely on forty thousand votes from African American Democrats, who believe the exact opposite of what Mississippi Republicans stand for, in order to win the Republican primary. Cochran has thus proved himself to be a sleazy and contemptible politician. But even more disgusting is the stupidity of the Mississippi law that allowed for this travesty to occur. "Open" primaries such as this should be banned nationwide.

    June 27, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. grafixer

    It is only fair when it goes their way.

    June 27, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Debbie

    The tea party should change their name to the hate group. They seem to hate everyone that is not in their self righteous tea party..

    June 27, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. stephen kozikowski

    It is the Tea Partiers who are enacting laws in the states to suppress the votes of seniors, Hispanic, and Afro- Americans. Now they cry foul when the tables are turned and they don't like it. Mr. Mc Daniel you lost the election; get over it.

    June 27, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Boyd

    If it was so fair why are the counties blocking access to the voter rolls? You cant vote in the democrat primary AND the republican primary which many many of these people did. It is illegal and is the only reason the democrat lite party won. Dishonorable people always lose in the end.

    June 27, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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