June 27th, 2014
09:26 AM ET
5 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. Paul

    If Barbour's mouth is moving ..you know its lying or eating.

    June 27, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. cjhonson

    I'm a Mississippi life long democrat that voted for Thad. Learned it form Rush in 08

    June 27, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  3. beancounterz

    With all the talk and legislation by the GOP to prevent voter fraud which primarily targets valid democratic voters, it is interesting that the only examples of voter fraud or voting irregularities appear during GOP elections or as republicans as the fraudulent voters. This started way back in the Iowa Straw poll, which apparently those counting the ballots had trouble getting past the number 1, to the guy who voted 7 times in the WI recall election, to any election a tea party member has lost (MS). The best way to avoid voter fraud appears to be preventing those who are registered republicans from voting.

    June 27, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    As I stated yesterday, the GOP's outreach program to Blacks and women is a complete bust.
    ----------–

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

    June 27, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    tom l
    What's good for the goose....

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Right on tom – considering the reds have been doing this for years, it's well past time for them to get a taste of their own medicine – and the TP'ers to REALLY break free and start their own political party!

    June 27, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Did the "irregularities" have proper ID, and were they legal citizens and residents of the state of Massassappi?
    Then what the problem be McDaniel?
    Oh, that's right, you lost.

    June 27, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  7. Rafael M

    Shouldn't Democrats who live in a red state be able to choose the lesser of two evils? Someone needs to clue-in McDaniel about how democracy works.

    June 27, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Have we had enough?

    It always makes me laugh when a politician claims something was Unethical. As if, you know, a politician had any clue about ethical behavior.

    Note: This is a non-partisan jab. There's something about becoming a politician that turns otherwise upstanding citizens into ethically challenged prats.

    June 27, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. JK

    The blacks will vote democrat in the general elections. If you vote in the democrat primary, you can't vote in the republican primary, very clear. The runoff is a part of the primary. If you voted in the democrat primary, you can't vote in the republican runoff, very clear. What don't you understand about the law? I don't like primaries, they shouldn't exist, but the democrats love them. Do away with primaries, have the general election only, much fairer. But follow the law, the US is a nation of laws, for all, not selectively.

    June 27, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Laverne

    "Not fair, Not fair" boo hoo hoo, I should have won because I really wanted to win! This is more proof this guy was not the right person, he is a whiner and complainer and this is probably how he does business in general! I hope not another tea party pooper wins, they don't deserve to represent anybody!

    June 27, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. DwayneB

    A few hundred votes isnt going to make any difference. Let it go and take your second place trophy

    June 27, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. Sasquatcho

    Well, that is not surprising since Dems were involved

    June 27, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Bubba

    Big surprise! Tea party doesn't think black votes should count. The Tea Party isn't racist they just don't like black people.

    June 27, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. rotopig

    Chris McDaniel, irregularities are avoidable with a high fiber diet and plenty of fluids, preferably water.

    June 27, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Chris stop crying, be a real man. I remeber when I still live in Mississippi that I voted for Trent Lott in atleast two senate races, and I am a register democrat. Now, you must truly represent Jones County and stop crying. You might become Governor or wait until Thad retire. Everybody know that Mississippi is a Repbulican state. Nobody complained about Stennis and he was in Washingto for about 45 years.

    June 27, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Cheating to win is cool.
    I'm so proud of my party !

    June 27, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. EddyL

    Yup. Right-wingers and their mania for voter fraud..... What a farce.

    June 27, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Will

    Republicans want fair elections? I about fell out of my chair laughing.

    June 27, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. Nathan Feibelman

    Such short memories. Two years ago Rush and the other conservative media were begging Republicans to cross over to Democratic primaries. What's good for the goose...

    June 27, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Nobody can explain it to him, everybody too busy crying in their beer.
    Waaah! Waaah!

    June 27, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. hk jonus

    the minute the 2 parties institutionalized their primaries, we lost some freedom in this country.

    June 27, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Ctrygrl

    Absolutely people should only be able to vote in one primary and only in the resulting runoff if there was one from the original primary they voted in. I am sure Mr. McDaniel can find some voters that did not follow this, but the question is how many can he find and how could he possibly prove they all voted against him. If he has a friendly judge maybe he can get the primary results overturned and they can have another runoff. Then if he loses this one he can sue again. Go for it Mr. McDaniels if you do this right, Mississippi might just be able to sneak in a democratic senator.

    June 27, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. MarkRB

    The point everyone on here is missing, is that if someone(white or black) voted in the democratic primary, they can't turn around and vote again in the Republican primary. All they need to do is check the voter tally sheets where you sign in to vote....if names appear on both primary voting sheets, the vote shouldn't count.

    June 27, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. Silence DoGood

    So McDaniel goes around saying Obama lied about going to college and plays pretend in pro-Confederate States clubs and says the black votes shouldn't count.

    AND he wonders why African Americans are not voting for him. Seriously?

    Another Tea Party hero.

    June 27, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. Karen

    Some of you people on here (Liberals) are so damn STUPID that you need shock therapy to bring you back to your senses. Black people in Miss can vote in any election just like they can in any other state. However, thousands of them, for whatever reason, chose NOT to vote in the primary election. As such, the Cochran campaign courted them with scare tactics and $$$ to cross party lines and vote for him in his runoff election with McDaniel. Without the black vote, McDaniel would have won this election fair and square!!!! Needless to say, those Democrats who voted for Cochran in this Republican runoff election, will either (a) not vote at all in the upcoming November election, or (b) vote Democrat. As for the Tea Party (which isn't an official party on the ballot), if not for their conservative movement in 2010, the Republicans would not have won 55% of the House seats in 2012. So shame on those Republicans who give NO credit to the Tea Party movement. They wouldn't be in the position they are without the Tea Party. Hypocrites!

    June 27, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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