(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.
Follow @politicaltickerFollow @psteinhausercnn
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
Aleric bit mouth with a big lie.
McDaniel failed to mention that his right hand tra party man just committed suicide.
The law is very clear regarding open primaries in Mississippi. Under Mississippi's system, the Tea Party (TP) had every right to court the same voters that Sen. Cochran pursued. The TP chose not to. Their mistake. The TP must understand that in statewide elections, candidates need to represent ALL of the people, not just some small ideological subset.
sounds like a sore loser, if you think he was robbed, have him run as an independent.
Are two of the irregularities when his people broke into a nursing home to take video of Cochran's wife, and when some of his staff somehow got locked in the courthouse with the ballots?
I live in Mississippi and the problem is McDaniel WON the primary but was forced into a runoff so Cochran could finagle a way to win. Besides using race he used scare tactics telling employees their jobs would be gone if he was not re-elected.
This from the guy whose people snuck into a Nursing facility to take pictures of a helpless incapacitated woman. Cry me a river Whiney.
The Koch brothers, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et al ought to be ashamed of themselves for exploiting the TeaPers as they have done this past 6 years.
Ah, well. Misery breeds misery. And there is certainly a surplus of misery in GOPerville today.
Liberals Rig an election and its somehow the Tea Party fault, typical hypocrites
In the words of Joe Scarbarough “You lost!” the “Morning Joe” host said. “If you’re too stupid to win an election, don’t whine about it the next day and say the other side cheated.”
It was an OPEN PRIMARY!!! If you try to run a far right in an open primary you WILL LOOSE!! Nobody rigged an OPEN PRIMARY election!!! Typical RWNJ sniveling.
I agree with ANNIER that Sen McCain is a nitwit, but he is one of the two senators from Arizona, not Alaska. So be careful who you call a nitwit.
The headline is redundant!
"Miss. tea party leader dead in possible suicide"
Good riddance, Mississippi dirtbag!
Irregularities in a Mississippi election? I just can't believe that!
McDaniel, just like the rest of the TEA party, you have no class.
There were no irregularities in this election. Democrats are allowed to vote in primaries and runoffs.
I haven't noticed anyone point this out, so I guess I will. Only the bull-headed arrogance of a hard core conservative would fail to see the hypocrisy of McDaniel leveling accusations of fraud and cheating when three of his own people were caught locked up in the courthouse overnight during the primary.
I'm beginning to think McDaniel has a few irregularities himself.
Just one irregularity, African Americans voting for a Republican.
For all we know, the "Democrats"who voted in the run off voted for McDaniel. Had they not voted, he might have lost by more than 7000 votes.
It looks like "WE THE PEOPLE" won. not the few
not fair? then go to the board of elections and file a grievance , don't shoot your self... wow.
They make exlax if your feeling a bit irregular there McDaniel, trouble is with your ilk it spews from the mouth.
McDaniel comes off as a bad loser and cry baby. I have followed this race closely. McDaniel is an extremist who scared a lot of Black people with his positions. Haley Barbour showed how saavy he is in outfoxing McDaniels' ground troops. All's fair in politics...
Aleric: There aren't any liberals in Mississippi. Republicans did it all by themselves.
McDaniel...you lost by thousands...not hundreds. "Hundreds of irregularities"? You are a typical Tea Party bully trying to force your way against the will of the voters. Heck...in 32 of the 33 states controlled by the GOP you guys are systematically trying to deprive the poor, the rural, the young, the old, the disabled from voting because they normally vote Democratic. Go home and stay there. You're through. Thank God.
Bottom line: If you don't like it, move to a closed primary system. But if you give Democrats the legal right to vote in the Republican primary, don't whine about it when they do.