Losing Senate candidate in Mississippi may challenge results

Thu Jul 3, 2014 6:52pm EDT

Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel delivers a concession speech in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, June 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel delivers a concession speech in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, June 24, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Bachman

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(Reuters) - The defeated challenger in last week's Mississippi Republican U.S. Senate primary took an initial step Thursday toward challenging the election result, with his campaign formally seeking access to ballots cast in the race.

Chris McDaniel, a state senator backed by the conservative Tea Party movement, has said the bitterly fought election was stolen with votes illegally cast by Democrats for his opponent, six-term U.S. Senator Thad Cochran.

McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch said the McDaniel campaign, after reviewing voting records in 51 of 82 counties, has uncovered 4,900 voting irregularities, most of them Democratic primary voters improperly casting ballots in the June 24 Republican runoff.

The campaign has not provided documentation of the alleged irregularities.

"We are not saying Democrats are not eligible to cross over," Fritsch said. "But Democrats crossing over after voting in the Democrat primary is against state law."

The campaign on Thursday served papers to Clayton Cochran, Senator Cochran's son, seeking access to ballots in a move Fritsch said could presage a formal challenge of the results, which the state Republican party is expected to certify next week.

McDaniel lost to Cochran by over 6,700 votes in the runoff after besting him by roughly 1,400 votes in the June 3 primary while falling short of an outright majority.

Many of Mississippi's Democrats are black. The Cochran campaign, which courted black Democrats before the runoff to broaden its base, has dismissed McDaniel's assertions of illegal voting as unfounded.

"This whole challenge is frivolous," said Jordan Russell, spokesman for the Cochran campaign. "If he wants to look at the ballots, then fine, we'll go look at the ballots."

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (16)
Doc62 wrote:
Waaah, I want my mommy. Heard this from Al Gore a long time ago. McDaniel, Go Away. The People have spoken.

Jul 03, 2014 7:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Burns0011 wrote:
Whine whine whine. That’s what the Tea Party is good for.

Jul 03, 2014 11:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Statistician wrote:
I am a bit puzzled about what Mr. McDaniel is proposing as a solution. Is it to declare the entire election void if more ineligible voters are found than the margin of victory? It strikes me as invalid to argue a priori that all Democrats, or, for that matter, all African-Americans, who may have voted or voted in both primaries, must be counted as votes for Cochran.

Surely, the implication of McDaniel’s argument that Blacks should not be voting in the Republican primary is that they aren’t wanted in the GOP at all. This is a bit of a headache for a party that recognizes its need to expand its demographic breadth. Like Strom Thurmond’s party turmoil when he was still a Democrat in 1948, this sort of foolishness does a party no good in national elections and it is a sign of weakness in the GOP that the party can no longer bring discipline to its candidates.

Jul 03, 2014 12:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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