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. Lenny Pincus

    So the Mississippi Tea Party number two guy just killed himself. An interesting bunch.

    June 27, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Gary

    Irregularities. For the people who supposedly voted twice, how do they know how they voted?. You can't force someone to tell you who they voted for. At best, those votes would be a wash. Better check to see if any Republicans voted in the Democratic Primary.

    June 27, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. John

    This guy is sounding like Al Gore in 2000.

    June 27, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Remember that ugly buck-toothed guy.. a comedian... the one who ran for Senate.. challenged the results of the election 3 recounts till they found votes in trunks of cars and in his shorts.... Democrat.

    June 27, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. PJ

    It's unfortunate that race was injected into this story. It should really be about a Republican incumbent pandering to Democrats to beat his Tea Party opponent. I don't care about the race, marital status, height or weight of the people he pandered to. The bigger story is that this is a perfect example of WHY many conservative can't stand the RINO incumbents, their tactics and ideology has been corrupted and they make elections all about themselves and not about serving their constituents.

    June 27, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. Steve Raye

    For you fools who don't know any better, you can't vote in Democratic election process, and then again in the Republican election process. If you didn't vote in the Democratic Primary even if you are a Democrat, you can vote in the Republican election. The irregularities are some Democrats who voted Democrat and then in the Republican election. That's something Democrats are good at voting more than once.

    June 27, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. matt

    Well welcome to politics cry baby....its obviously not for you.

    June 27, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. BayAreaBill

    History hates sore losers and whiners and he is doing a lot of both. This fool reminds me of Joe McCarthy with his furious hurling around unfounded allegations. I hope that he is destroying his future political career with this behavior because he clearly isn't fit to hold office. Hey Chris boy! Good politicians lose with grace and dignity, not polemics and temper tantrums. BTW, I'm a moderate to conservative Republican and there is no room in our Party for dangerous fools like McDaniel.

    June 27, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Gene

    One of the irregularities is you, McDaniel.

    June 27, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Anonymous

    McDaniel is a racist snake. Glad he lost. The tea party would like nothing better than more voter suppression. If black America, in a southern state, get out and vote for a Republican you know the other guy is a racist snake. I can't stand the tea party and this man is as bad as Cruz. Just a slithering and manipulative snake.

    June 27, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. Alex

    Aren't Mississippians suppose to choose who will represent them in the senate not parties.

    June 27, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. smith1

    whine, whine, whine. The party of No just whines and does nothing but hold stupid hearings and try and impeach the president. What a waste of tax payer dollars . Their followers are a crazy as they are. Vote them all out so we can move forward. They have cost the American people more money what with the government shut down and all the bogus hearing about any and everything. Then they all managed to take long, long vacations . What have they done for us??????

    June 27, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. MassMan

    Barbour is absolutely correct. Mississippi is a socially conservative state (both Republicans and Democrats), but when radical fiscal conservatives who utter questionable racial ideas to divide the races economically come along,many voters are turned off. Thus, it is not difficult to understand some black Democrats wanting to convert to the Republican party during and after the runoff. This does not bode well for the Democratic party in Mississippi, because another type, the radical social liberal, would not win an election there either.

    June 27, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. agcook

    It is a sad day in our country when the two parties think they are more important than the peoples right to vote.
    People cross party lines all the time I have myself. McDaniel got beat by a better politician nothing more.

    June 27, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. heath

    boohoo...give it up. don't become a 2000 gore

    June 27, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. Court529

    In Mississippi, we do not register with a party. When we go to the polls in a primary, our names are on both parties' lists so that we can vote in whichever primary we choose. If there is a runoff, we can vote if a). we voted in that party's primary initially or b). we didn't vote in either primary initially. Chris McDaniel ran the dirtiest campaign I have seen in a long time. He scared me into voting in the Republican primary on June 3 and again on June 24. Thad Cochran's people didn't need to do a thing. I'm also a realist, who knows that a Democrat doesn't stand a very good chance of winning a statewide election in Mississippi. I'd rather have Thad Cochran, who has done a lot for the people of Mississippi over the years, than Chris McDaniel who said he wanted to go to Washington, D.C., to work with Ted Cruz. I mean, seriously? Is that supposed to make me feel comforted? No, thank you, Mr. McDaniel. Not one single elected official in the state of Mississippi backed Chris McDaniel. His support came from people like Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin. Again, is that supposed to make feel comforted? McDaniel needs to man up and stop whining. He lost. Be gracious. He looks like a fool.

    June 27, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. D.W. Washburn

    If there are indications that some individuals cast votes in the Democratic Party primary, then voted in the Republican primary runoff, it needs to be investigated. The integrity of our democracy needs to be upheld at all times.

    June 27, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. chill485

    Republicans talked nasty about you? I'm shocked! Doesn't feel so good being on the other end of it does it? Perhaps one day these Republicans will realize that most voters are Americans first and party members way down the line somewhere behind that.

    June 27, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. Tom

    Ok so I agree the Democrats can vote in the Republican Primary..... but only if they did NOT also vote in the Democrat Primary as well.... I think that elections are the foundation of our system of government and in order to uphold the integrity of them we need to verify the validity of the votes! We have the time.... there should be no RUSH to come to a incorrect conclusion.

    June 27, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. MadTownKat

    According to McDaniels, "35,000 – 40,000 Democrat voters jumped into this race." According to the official results, only 61,000 votes were cast...so if McDaniels is accurate, then he has far greater issues than open primaries. Over half the vote were cast by Democrats, and only 20,000-25,000 GOP voters decided to turnout. Perhaps he might want to examine why GOP voters elected to stay home....

    June 27, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Apparently the liberal commenters on this site did not actual listen to what McDaniel said. If you voted in the Democrat primary then by state law you are not allowed to vote in the Republican primary or run off. He has found cases where these voters did just that – vote in both a Democrat and Republican primary. So are the liberals saying it is racist to point out this voter fraud? If Cochran has an ounce of integrity in him he is the one who should be conceding.

    June 27, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. Pandamonius

    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
    You must have been sleeping in 2008 when Rush, Rove, and gang were ordering faithful republicans to vote in the democratic primaries.

    The irony is that they were told to vote for Obama, who was deemed less electable than Clinton.

    June 27, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. hjtd

    When 73 percent of Americans today believe that illegal immigrants should be able to legally stay in the U.S. and 8 million people have signed up for Obamacare, all the loud pontificating by Ted Cruz and other "real" conservatives can't deny one simple fact. The angrier and more vocal the Tea Party gets, the more we know that issues like gay marriage and Obamacare are becoming not only mainstream, but protected under the Constitution. Even if they break away from the GOP and form their own party (which would help liberals immensely), the Tea Party won't be able to stop the country from becoming more liberal with every generation.

    June 27, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  24. Anonymous

    What is sad is that McDaniel is slamming what a democracy should look like. The tea party is a dangerous movement and this man is as bad as the rest of the KKK tea party and blacks knew it. I think black America did what we all should do in a democracy. This is what an election should look like. The tea party want to suppress votes, cheat, and lie as long as it works in their favor.

    June 27, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. art

    These are the same people who had their followers vote for Hillary in the Democratic primary to foil Obama. Hypocrites

    June 27, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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