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. Carolle

    There's nothing "irregular" about being a whiny Tea Potty sore loser.

    June 27, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Imagine That

    If this is the caliber of the man who would have been Mississippi's junior senator, I think America can let out a collective sigh of relief at the bullet we just dodged.

    June 27, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |

    Dear Mr. McDaniel: It's a FREE country. If you don't like our election process, move to Iran. You'll be welcomed there.

    June 27, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Phil in KC

    Did he stamp his feet and stick out his lower lip?

    June 27, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Vulcan

    A fair election is one which you win.

    June 27, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    I think the biggest irregularity is McDaniel.

    June 27, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |

    Look like the Tea Party is a way to get the Dems and GOP to work together. The Democrats an Republicans are scared at the rapid growth of the Tea Party so they adopted the Arab saying the enemy of my enemy is a friend indeed.

    June 27, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. ivan

    So now that his good buddy Mark Mayfield has blown his brains as a courtesy to America, will Chris McDaniel go quietly off into the sunset? Pretty Please??? With Sugar On Top????????

    June 27, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Smaller the government the better

    Yeah! Just ask Somalia!

    June 27, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Mike in Texas


    African Americans aren't being used. What they do know is that McDaniel would be a far worse Senator than Cochran is. Their vote was to prevent this Tea Party Extremist to be elected. African Americans had three choices. 1) A Democratic Senator, 2)Thad Cochran or 3)Chris McDaniel. They knew option one was not a reality so they chose the lesser two of the evils. #2.

    June 27, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Rich

    If they don't register by party in Mississippi then how do we know they are Democrats. Is the assumption that because they are black, which are we sure about the ethnicity of the voters, that they are democrats. Sounds to me like someone has a case of the sore losers.

    June 27, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Conservatives ought to grow a pair & man up and accept defeat. It won't be the last!

    June 27, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. Gammar

    The runoff was done as state law allows, and now he is whining. Someone give him some cheese!

    June 27, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. BD70

    Oh whaaaa...stay out of politics if you can't take the heat.

    June 27, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Anthony Ames

    McDaniel has a point about how the intent of a primary election was perverted by the sharp maneuvering that cost him the nomination. It appears as though Cochran's margin was provided by people who will never vote for him in a general election.

    I (1) think McDaniel was done some dirt, but (2) don't personally want him within a hundred miles of Washington.

    June 27, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  16. jhs39

    If Chris McDaniel doesn't even understand the election law in his own state how can he possibly be qualified for a Senate seat? In his quote he completely misrepresented voting law in Mississippi, which was designed specifically to allow people to cross party lines when voting if they wanted to. If McDaniel doesn't like the law he's free to try to get it changed. He isn't free to pretend that the law doesn't exist.

    June 27, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. Mike

    Years back Rush encouraged republicans is a southern state to change their registration to democrat so they could vote against a certain democrat that he did not want to win. The tactic used by Cochran is very similar yet back when Rush did it no one within the republican party said a word. McDanial has no one to blame but his own party. He does exemplify the Tea Party's mantra which is "do it our way or not at all". That kind of governing is what they are complaining about Obama. They truly are the party of "Do as we say, not as we do".

    June 27, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    What is your problem Mc D . Does it irk you that after all the money you spent to buy that election you lost anyway
    b/c us democrats put the screws to you . Hang on sonny , there is more to c ( ) m . and yes that last word is
    spelled correctly . connect the bottom . Cheers to you whiner , I am headed to my neighborhood store to get you some cheese , a rats favorite ................I will mail it to the PO box named LOSER .

    June 27, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    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.

    Yeah, I know. It's a lost cause. I'm chalking it up to a lost binkie and a much needed nap for this McDaniel dude.

    June 27, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. LibertyMan

    @Aleric says: "Liberals Rig an election and its somehow the Tea Party fault, typical hypocrites...."
    translation: "Damn those liberals, how dare they legally vote for somebody I don't support!"

    June 27, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Steve wrote on page 13:

    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.
    It was a typical conservative move. Does anyone remember the black guy that South Carolina Republicans had entered into the Democratic primary a few years ago, and he won?

    Does anyone remember the 2008 campaign battle between Clinton and Obama, folks like Rush Limbaugh was encouraging Republicans in states with open primaries to go out and vote against Hillary? I guess he figured that the black guy would never win the general election. Anyone else remember those acts of conservative skullduggery?

    June 27, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. Clarence Alexander

    This is an odd statement:
    " ... we don't register by party. So whites and blacks get to vote in the Republican primary"

    June 27, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Jon

    The TEA Party apparently feels that negotiation and cooperation are bad words. They truly wanted to shut the government down over the health care law passed by Congress. Senator Cochran was correct in saying that the battle over that law was over. The President would veto anything if it did pass and obviously there would not be enough votes to over ride a veto by the President. TEA Party seems to stand for economic terrorism, i.e., just shut the U.S. Government down, if you cannot get your narrow-minded way.

    June 27, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. the old guy

    Did he bother to the check ahead of- Mississippi has OPEN PRIMARIES where ANYONE can vote in I ANY primary?>

    June 27, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. NANA

    Lets get busy correcting them. Or are you going to go weak too and cave in like the RINOs do to the liberals?

    June 27, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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