The bitter race between Mississippi state Senator Chris McDaniel and incumbent Thad Cochran has been well documented on this site. McDaniel, immediately upon losing the runoff election to Cochran, made two things abundantly clear:
1) He would NOT concede anything
2) He believed that some democratic voters, in particular black voters, had illegally voted in that primary, in effect stealing the election from him (He won narrowly in the original vote).
Well. a little over a month later, he’s taking his fight to the next level:
Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the tea party-backed challenger who lost a primary runoff to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, has formally asked the state Republican Party to overturn the June 24 election results and declare him the winner.
But McDaniel faces high legal hurdles — with vague evidence — as he extends this midterm election year’s most bitter fight between tea party factions of the conservative movement who backed him and the traditional GOP powers who helped Cochran win by 7,667 votes, a margin of 1.8 percentage points.
McDaniel and his attorney confirmed Monday that they have filed a formal challenge with the state party, asserting that enough Democratic voters illegally cast runoff ballots to hand the nomination to the six-term incumbent.
“They asked us to put up or shut up, and here we are with the evidence,”
What evidence is he referring to? Well, that’s a good question. The article states:
McDaniel’s appeal hinges on comparing voter lists from the initial primary, which McDaniel led without winning a majority, and the runoff, when Cochran managed a comeback aided by a sharp increase in turnout in areas with a large number of black voters, a reliably Democratic voting bloc in Mississippi.
Mississippi voters don’t register by party, but state law makes so-called crossover voting — casting a ballot in one party’s primary and then another party’s runoff in the same cycle — a misdemeanor.
Attorney Mitchell Tyner said McDaniel’s campaign had found about 3,500 instances of crossover votes, along with the 9,500 “irregular votes” and 2,275 “improperly cast” absentee ballots. He did not immediately explain what made those votes irregular, or how the absentee ballots may have been improperly cast, saying only that the second pool of ballots “are votes we have questions about.”
The number that dwarfs Cochran’s winning margin, however, is the 40,000 Democrats who McDaniel claims voted in the runoff, a figure that would include explicitly illegal crossover votes, along with self-identifying Democrats who did not vote in the first round.
So we have the McDaniel side saying they’ve found some “irregular” votes without actually saying what makes them irregular and McDaniel himself making a wildly spurious claim of some tens of thousands of allegedly “illegitimate” votes.
Let’s not forget that beyond the raw numbers there was the noted “Vote buying” scandal in which less than ethical blogger Charles C. Johnson (who is NOT the man who runs this site) allegedly claimed to have been told by another notorious con man, Steve Fielder, that Fielder had been hired to “arrange” black votes for Cochran.
The whole scandal turned out to be a fabrication. No evidence of vote buying or rigging has ever been presented.
If the state GOP does not act on McDaniels request in 10 days, he can appeal to the State Court, but there he faces an even higher legal burden to prove his case. An attorney for the Cochran camp absolutely nails it:
Mark Garriga said in a statement that McDaniel’s 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.”
Tea Party behind him or not, the chances of any major changes resulting from this new action are practically nil. He will be facing EXTREMELY long odds in the court system.
Not once in the state of Mississippi has a court EVER overturned the results of a primary election or ordered a re-vote.
Although Mississippi has long been considered a big safe zone for the Tea Party types, even in the deep south public opinion has slowly been shifting against them.
If you look at the comments in the linked article you might expect to find a bunch of wingnuts raging about the “illegal” black voters, but instead what you find is a populace growing weary of Tea Party politics.
The very first comment on the article reads in part:
Chris, Chris, Chris. Has no one explained to you the concept of “political suicide”? I’m thinking not, because that’s what you’re doing here. Had you taken this like a man, you might have had a chance the next election cycle. But by “crying to mommy” (mommy, in this case, being the VERY Republicans you and the rest of the TP morons complain about “not being conservative enough”) because you didn’t get your way, all you’re doing is proving that you are unfit to lead and all you bring to the table is an obstructionist agenda of “If I don’t get my way, I’ll whine and cry and stamp my feet and do nothing”.