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. Corpsman

    "anybody that has any doubt that democrats will screw with and tamper with elections should just look at this case. they have no business voting in a republican primary run off but their evil, deceitful ways are just too much to suppress."

    Look up Mississippi election law: as long as they didn't vote in the initial Democratic primary, they are able to vote in the Republican run-off. You might find it helpful to learn something about the way our democracy functions.

    June 27, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Jo Joe

    Looks like TP doesn't like the law when it doesn't suit them

    June 27, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Jim

    What McDaniel doesn't realize is that Democrats know that whoever holds the seat in Congress is the representative for both the Democrats and the Republicans of their district, whether they voted for him/her or not. So, if one has an opportunity to vote involving two evils, it is only human nature to vote for the lesser evil. Furthermore, I would venture to say that some of those later voters remembered that people died in Mississippi to obtain the privilege to vote and exercised the privilege, for that reason

    June 27, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. frank9875

    Foiks are tired of the extreme right-wingers trying to control the agenda by winning primaries decided by a slim minority of voters. A lot of states allow open primaries, and I think you are going to see more of this strategy. The few Tea Party folks that have gotten into the House are largely responsible for the current gridlock and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it.

    June 27, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. conoclast

    Rules are rules-that's how the civilized world rolls. That this seems to be news to the psychotic-right is no surprise, is it!

    June 27, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. SeattleReign

    It's always "unfair" when the shoe is on the other foot, huh? Wonder if he would oppose gerrymandering if it affected his party adversely. What he really wants is the unfairness to go against the opposition party, not his. Things don't work that way when you want it both ways as long as it favors your party. Jerk.

    June 27, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Apparently, Teabaggers like McDaniel don't like outside "influences" when it works AGAINST them, but it's OK when it work for them. These Teabaggers ( the REAL RINOS) seem to have forgotten Limbaugh's 2008 " Operation Chaos" when he advised his listeners to go out and vote in the Democratic Primaries to "mess things up for the Democrats". You didn't hear them screaming when Teabaggers quietly urged and accepted crossover votes to help oust Cantor a few months ago. As a typical Right wing radio "shock jock", McDaniel learned how effective fact-free hyperbole can be and now has been hoisted on the shaft of his own petard.

    June 27, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. frank9875

    People are tired of the extreme right trying to control the agenda by winning primaries with low voter turnouts. The ones that have managed to get into the House are largely to blame for the current gridlock. Look for more moderats and dems to jump into this idea

    June 27, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. Dave

    Sour grapes...

    June 27, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. Dan White

    It's official and wasn't even that close. McDaniel is looking like a hot head who doesn't belong in any leadership position.

    June 27, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    just asking

    anybody that has any doubt that democrats will screw with and tamper with elections should just look at this case. they have no business voting in a republican primary run off but their evil, deceitful ways are just too much to suppress. if there is an election, they must screw with it, tamper, mess it up. after all, messing things up is what they do best. or is that blame others for their mistakes?? yeah, a real tough chice there.
    It would seem that Democrats voted at the request of a Republican. The state has an open primary because that's how the state wants to run its' primaries. Most blue states do not have closed primaries.

    June 27, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. sang3

    Let's see here.

    So it is a serious felony to take a picture of a fully clothed Democrat's wife

    But it is okay for the IRS to stalk, harass, and abuse Tea Party members.

    We see that the Democrats are like the mafia. You slight them in any way it is a felony and they can commit felonies and nothing is done.

    Do you wonder why Americans are not happy with their government?

    June 27, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. DJ Reality

    Did McDaniel's Dick Cheney his friend Mark Mayfield?

    June 27, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    nancy Ruth says:
    June 27, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm
    Haley Barbour & his ilk are not part of the conservative majority! Cochoran Is a senile old bird & doesn’t even know hat happened! If we can’t even trust our election process we are in big trouble Theses blacks won’t vote for Thaddy in the general election, they’ll be back with their liberal masters!!! If we can’t even trust our election process, then we’ve lost our country!! & YES, it is against the law to use churches ,but the lib blacks have been using churches from the beginning & have payed no consequences, & that’s not right no matter what color you are! Who was it that said about the election process, ” They bring a knife to the election, you bring a gun”???!!!! None other than barak huissen Obama! And islam is a peaceful religion!!!

    Miss Intelligence.... While you're complaining about black churches do Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell or whatever his name is, ring a bell? Way back in the 60's before blacks even had the right to vote Billy Graham was using his power to get those to vote his way. If my memory serves me correctly, Billy Graham told JFK that he would stay away from the election but turned around and tried to get everyone to vote against Kennedy. Your hatred of that man that occupies the Oval Office is shining through, as is your intelligence. Don't trip on your sheet.

    June 27, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  15. Shani from Mississippi

    African Americans received robo calls from the McDaniels campaign. Also McDaniels signs were seen in blacks communities. Isn't this an attempt to get votes? Cochran just ran a better campaign to get the votes. Get over it....cry baby...lol.....

    June 27, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. pjoe

    If voting rolls in several counties are not made public (as required by state law), something is fishy. The only rule in Mississippi is if you voted in the Democrat Primary, you cannot vote in the Republican Primary (and vice versa). The voting rolls will indicate if this happened and apparently hundreds have already been found.

    June 27, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. Knucklehead

    In other words, they treated him just like the Tea Party treats people. Boo hoo.

    June 27, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. phillip a

    ....and the biggest irregularity is McDaniel, himself.

    June 27, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Big_D

    Funny how they hate the process and the voters. We know their endgame.

    June 27, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Big_D

    I would be more upset where the TP won with only a 12% turnout. That isn't representation.

    June 27, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Andrew

    Shocking! The far right truly owns denial of reality and extreme sense of victimization.

    June 27, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. GOP FAIL

    I see Mark got a conscience. What about you, Chris?

    June 27, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    WOW!! All you democrats must have forgotten about FL when your boy Gore, who fought on and on and it took the Supreme Court ruling to finally decide? I don't remember all you calling Gore a sore loser!? Why not let the investigation take place and see how many people voted in both (which is illegal) and remove the tax exempt statuses of the churches that violated the rules. CNN is such a liberal rag!

    June 27, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. GOP FAIL

    Tea Party = Losers

    June 27, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. Rosslaw

    I can understand McDaniel's confusion. African-Americans are not supposed to be allowed to vote for a republican as it comes pretty darn close to being an unnatural act-sort of like pigs flying or a Romney joining the military.

    June 27, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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