Tea Party hopeful Chris McDaniel lost his Republican primary challenge to six-term Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi on June 24. Cochran beat him by about 7,700 votes. On July 7, the state's Republican Party certified Cochran's victory.
Six weeks after the run-off election, McDaniel is having a tough time moving on.
On Monday, McDaniel, a state senator, announced he was formally challenging the results and asking the Mississippi Republican executive committee to declare him the party's nominee in the November general election.
"Justice has no timetable, and yet here we stand," McDaniel, 42, told reporters assembled at a press conference outside his headquarters in Jackson that was somewhat ominously interrupted by thunderclaps and a downpour. "They asked us to put up or shut up, and yet here are. Here we are with the evidence."
Since shortly after the run-off, McDaniel and his team have alleged that Cochran and his "race-baiting" allies stole the election by turning out Democrats who voted illegally in both the Democratic primary and the Republican run-off. The Cochran campaign did appeal to the largely Democratic population of African American voters in the state who were eligible to vote in the G.O.P. run-off if they had not earlier voted in their own party's primary.
"We saw despicable acts of race-baiting," McDaniel said Monday. "We saw despicable allegations from those that are supposed to be leaders of the Republican Party."
"We witnessed it first hand," he added. "We saw the dirty tricks that we coming from Washington D.C."
After canvassing courthouses throughout the state, the McDaniel campaign is submitting about 250 pages of affidavits detailing voting irregularities, a spokesman said.
McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner said the campaign had identified "over 15,000 votes that were cast and should not have been" – including some 3,500 illegal "crossover votes," 2,275 improper absentee ballots, and 9,500 other questionable ballots.
McDaniel is not asking for a new election, which he could lose, but for the 52-member party committee to declare him the winner outright, Tyner said.
Chris McDaniel clearly, clearly won the Republican vote in the run-off. I say that very assuredly because that’s what the mathematics show. That’s not what I am arguing."
The Cochran campaign issued a statement Monday from its attorney, Mark Garriga, who said the McDaniel camp had made "repeated and baseless allegations of fraud and misconduct."
Like other Mississippians, we have watched with interest as the McDaniel campaign has made repeated and baseless allegations of fraud and misconduct against not only members of the Cochran campaign staff, but also Circuit Clerks and volunteer poll workers around the state.
The filing of this challenge marks the point where this matter moves from an arena of press conferences and rhetoric into a setting where nothing matters but admissible evidence and the rule of law. We look forward to holding the McDaniel campaign to the burden of proof that the law requires – and, we are dedicated to the defense of the votes of those Mississippians who voted on June 24 for Thad Cochran as their United States Senator, an election which has been as thoroughly reviewed and examined as any in modern Mississippi history."
As the GOP nominee in a deeply Republican state, the 76-year-old Cochran is expected to easily defeat the Democratic nominee, former Rep. Travis Childers, in the November general election.