June 27th, 2014
09:26 AM ET
4 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. Sniffit

    Yes, "irregular" is a good word for GOP/Teatroll politics...because the BS flows waaaaay too freely....

    June 27, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. rs

    Its funny when open election laws bite hyper-radical candidates. How funny- the GOP actually succeeds in getting Black voters- and the TEA Party guy whines. That law was designed and passed by the State Legislature to do just what happened. Live with it. Sour grapes just makes the TEA Party look like even bigger losers.

    June 27, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. Silence DoGood

    McDaniel is the irregularity.
    Do you know he accused Obama of falsifying his college record in recent speeches?
    Do you know he participates in "neo-Confederate" groups that think the Civil War turned out wrong?
    Don't forget the McDaniel crew photographing Cochran's sick wife.
    And he lost because of some evil vast conspiracy?
    Tea Party is creeping me out.

    June 27, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. 1776usa2016

    Well, another TEA party nitwit stamping their feet.

    What else is new?

    June 27, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. Joel

    Two words: open primary

    June 27, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. Dwight

    61,000 voted and he says 40,000 were Dems, so only 21,000 Repubs bothered to vote?

    June 27, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. Zayah V

    Wait so being a democrat means I am not allowed to vote for a Republican? What?

    June 27, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. gregg

    Sour grapes, I got beat by the system that has been in place for 100 years, but it so unfair..... was not unfair when the repubs voted in democratic elections to get a candidate they could beat... it is only unfair when my ox gets gored.....

    What a whiny beeootch,

    June 27, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. CP in FL

    McDaniel sounds like the typical tea party candidate, a big cry baby.

    June 27, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. so much for honesty

    Cry me a river, get over it, YOU LOST!

    June 27, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  11. nothing new here

    Would you like some cheese to go with your WHINE, sir?

    June 27, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. cjhonson

    LMAO, in 08 tons of republicans voted in democrat primary between Obama and Clinton to throw off the race as Rush asked for and now democrats are playing Rush's game. As for name calling, McDaniel's buddies the Koch brothers have be calling my phone almost every day bashing Cochran. McDaniel is full of it.

    June 27, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. WhatsamattaU

    Stop whining. You got beat. The system was rigged, yes, but Mississippi permits this cross party voting in primaries, for whatever reason. If you want only Republicans to vote in a Republican primary, get the law changed or move to a more advanced state. The latter might not work, because people in those more advanced states are probably better educated and will more easily see the dark side of the Tea Party types like you.

    June 27, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. teapooper

    "integrity of elections matters. It always has mattered." Unless the shoe's on the other foot, right George?

    June 27, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. Thomas

    Hillary will be much better at House hold chores , such as keeping the White House Spic and Span , not to mention she lived there before, and knows what days the garbage cans go out on Pennsylvania Ave .

    My biggest concern , is how Bill will adapt with his new role as a sweet and not so over shadowing husband who will say nice things and smile a lot , serve tea to visiting dignitaries . plan the Christmas events , and be the all around picture of good husbandry .

    "Clinton's 2016"

    June 27, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. teapooper

    "integrity of elections matters. It always has mattered." Unless the shoe is on the other foot, right George?

    June 27, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. John

    Like an honest hard working Republican really exists?

    June 27, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  18. Rememberwhatbushdid

    Bully go home. How does it feel? Your party is systematically attempting to deprive legitimate Americans the right to vote in 32 of the 33 states your party controls politically. So whine on...in your own party more irregularities? Cry a river...it won't flow to me. You guys are gangsters.

    June 27, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I guess there are no more Al Gore's around. He at least took his loss like a man with dignity, and he really was cheated.

    June 27, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. DFW Dann

    You were a state senator in Mississippi which means you could have worked to change the law allowing open primaries so no complaining that people followed the law.

    June 27, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. scarshapedstar1

    He does realize that it's no longer illegal for black people to vote in Mississippi, right?

    June 27, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. scarshapedstar1

    Has anyone informed McDaniel that whites-only voting is no longer the law of the land in Mississippi?

    June 27, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. mrl

    Cochran is a disgrace... gets a bunch of ignorant democrat voters to go to the polls to remove his primary contestant who was beating him. I know these democrat voters have no brain or scruples, and think nothing of voting more than once in an election – but the GOP does not condone this (probably why they lose so many elections)

    June 27, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  24. TallaDawg

    McDaniel: "Republicans are supposed to chose 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."

    Closed primaries are what is not fair. The problem is that all Americans should have a say in who they elect. The way Mr. McDaniel wants it, and the way it is in many states, most people just have to accept the lesser of tow very evil evils. The two-party system is what has crippled our political system. An extremist from one end or the other usually wins.

    June 27, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. Martin L.

    I am really impressed by the outrage exhibited by the Tea Party folks. In their cries for fair elections I must conclude that they stand shoulder to shoulder with all the minorities who are currently being finessed out of the voting process by voter suppression in Republican run states!

    June 27, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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