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. Lynda/Minnesota

    "In America, we have a right to vote."

    Hear, hear ... I'll vote to that.

    June 27, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. George

    This guy isn't fooling anyone. He's just setting up future rhetoric for the Tea Party sadistic cause. More "voter ID" laws will do further damage to real democracy with blatant voter suppression

    June 27, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. tom l

    What's good for the goose....

    June 27, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Tosabrown

    This McDaniels is nothing but a stone cold racist....and he wonders why blacks voted against him. The guy hangs around with neo-confederates. He rants about hip-hop & black stealings TVS during Katrina. This is also the same man who brings up not paying taxes for reparations to blacks when reparations is not even on the table or being talked about. The man is a king at dog whistle politics.....he attracts bigoted voters like flies

    June 27, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. NYVeteran

    Hilarious that the tea party cant accept the fact that no one except themselves take them seriously. If you want law cahnged, then use the system we have to change it or crawl back under your rock and be quiet.

    June 27, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. Dan

    McDaniels political career is likely toast. Cochran is an old man and this will be his last hurrah. McDaniels is a young politician and may have had a bright future. He's making a lot of enemies and inviting judgement by throwing this temper tantrum. Holding elected office in the federal government is no longer in his future.

    June 27, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Mikey444

    Mc Daniel lost because Cochran ran a smarter race. He used what he had to and what he did is perfectly legal in Mississippi. Besides...it's primarily a republican state. Their voting rules are republican. What ever happened to losing gracefully...and what's the most funny thing about this is that McDaniel says that he ran an unethical campaign....really? A republican being unethical???? Now That's funny!!!

    June 27, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    As I stated yesterday, the GOP's outreach program to Blacks and women is a complete bust.
    The GOP wants Blacks to vote but only when the GOP tells them to, and for whom the GOP tells them to.
    They are now calling Black votes "irregularities".
    You just can't make these people up folks!

    June 27, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. Paul

    This guy is a talk radio host who attacks people every day. He does character assassination for a living, but can't take the heat himself. What a crybaby. I'm not exactly a fan of Thad Cochran, but do you think he would be stomping his feet, saying his party was ruined, accusing people of crimes, and refusing to concede if he had lost by a few thousand votes? Nope, he would have congratulated his challenger that night, talked about what a privilege it was to serve in the senate and thank the party that nominated him for his previous terms.

    June 27, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. GOP

    TALLAWAG ; Is a member of McDaniels group pushing him an pushing the made up lies . The people got out an voted for Tad !! Period .

    June 27, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. doran

    100's?? 800 hundred in just one county they've checked so far.. That's a huge pattern of misconduct.

    June 27, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. justin

    What is it about the GOP? Both of these guys look really shady.

    June 27, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Silence DoGood

    Gotta love the right wingers, if they lose – "it was unfair", if they win – "it's the will of the people". Sharon Angle complained that Harry Reid stole the election here in Nevada 4 years ago, but what she can't get through her head is she scared the bejesus out of the voters. That people who actually hated Harry voted for him any way.

    Mississippi like most southern states do things a little backwards. They let parties cross the lines and vote in the other's primary. It's not a secret it's done all the time. And the democrats voted for the "devil they knew rather than the devil they didn't".
    Plus the Tea Party advocates violence when they lose too. Remember it was Angle that called for a "2nd amendment solution" to Harry Reid and that we needed to "take him out".

    The TP puts on a happy face when things are going well but just hit them with minority votes or equal rights and it is instant Confederate States!

    June 27, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. JIM

    so what I see from the comments on here is that liberals are not interested in a fair and legal election. the idea of fixing a primary so that the worst republican runs against the best lying democrat is a fair election is wrong that's why you want illegals electing your government. pull your heads out of the sand

    June 27, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. neilgj

    "hundreds of irregularities" like there were Black people voting! Black people! In Mississippi!!!

    June 27, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. Anonymous

    wait..isnt this the party that has been actively trying to restrict minorities from voting and creating barriers to expressing that right....they can now experience how that feels...boo hoo..boo hoo..

    June 27, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. jinx9to88

    This is awesome!!! Each race should be like this one. The representatives should represent the WHOLE state if elected not just their specific party. If Dems want to vote for which Republican best represent their needs they should be able to and vise versa.

    June 27, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. mike

    Recount the votes and the sore loser will lose by a larger margin.

    June 27, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. ChrisM

    So I guess McDaniel does not know what an Open Primary is and that it was set up like that by republicans. Perhaps the MS state attorney general can explain it to him.

    June 27, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. Malory Archer

    so what I see from the comments on here is that liberals are not interested in a fair and legal election. the idea of fixing a primary so that the worst republican runs against the best lying democrat is a fair election is wrong that's why you want illegals electing your government. pull your heads out of the sand.


    Yeah, except it WAS a "fair and legal" election! What part of "OPEN PRIMARY" do you NOT understand. Your ilk is just angry because once again YOU don't get to mock the loser and shout "get over it – you lost!"

    June 27, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. LibLover

    To all you anti-Tea Party folks calling them racists etc. Go to a Tea Party Rally and call one of their Black, Latino or Asian members a racist to their face.

    June 27, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Cruiser

    Boo Hoo, another cry baby Tea terrorist. Doesn't get his way and as usual blames everyone and thing except his own ignorant self. Sounds just like the drama queen Sarah Palin. Poor me, look how everybody picks on me, and I am the only real patriot. God, these worthless imbeciles are getting tiresome and will stop at nothing to drag the country down.

    June 27, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Reality Check

    Rules are rules unless you lose, then the rules are unfair. McDaniel should man up like Eric Cantor and just admit that he did not campaign as well as his opponent. He can always follow Scott Brown's lead and move to another state.

    June 27, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Politicians should seek votes from all people, because they propose to represent all the people of their district, not one party. Not feeling any sympathy for the Tea Party.

    June 27, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. MD

    Sorry to hear that Tea Party does not care for representing ALL of the people. Seems to me that there is a law in Mississippi that allows cross over. Perhaps this sore loser should try to change that law. Cochran knows how to work with the other side. We need people that can reach out and work with either party. Get over it.

    June 27, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
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