Sorry, Chris McDaniel, you're going to have to take your election challenge to a judge.
That was the message the Mississippi Republican Party delivered to the conservative state senator and Tea Party favorite who had asked to be declared the winner of the primary run-off he lost to Sen. Thad Cochran by about 7,700 votes in June.
In a letter to McDaniel late Wednesday, the party said it would not have enough time to formally hear his argument that Cochran relied on illegal votes from Democrats who had already cast ballots in their party's primary.
The 52-member state G.O.P. executive committee would have had until Aug. 14 to decide on McDaniel's challenge, the Clarion-Ledger reported that the party chairman, Joe Nosef, determined that was too quick a turnaround. He therefore referred McDaniel to the courts.
In fact, given the extraordinary relief requested of overturning a United States Senate primary in which over 360,000 Mississippians cast votes, the only way to ensure the integrity of the election process and provide a prudent review of this matter is in a court of law. The public judicial process will protect the rights of the voters as well as both candidates, and a proper decision will be made on behalf of our party and our state."
McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner said in a statement the campaign was "very disappointed" in the decision but would move forward with its legal challenge.
The party was the perfect venue in which to hear the challenge since it was responsible for the election, but we will move forward with a judicial review as provided for under Mississippi code."
In announcing the protest last week, Tyner said his team had identified more than 15,000 votes that were cast "and should not have been." Claiming that McDaniel actually won the run-off by 25,000 votes, the campaign asked the state party to simply declare him the winner rather than hold a new election.
Cochran, 76, is a six-term incumbent who is expected to win the general election against Democrat Travis Childers.
Here is the full letter from the state party chairman to the McDaniel campaign, provided to The Wire.