McDaniel files official challenge to June 24 runoff
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 1:00 AM
JACKSON - Flanked by attorneys, State Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Monday the filing of an official challenge to the June 24 GOP Senate Runoff for U.S. Senate he lost to incumbent Thad Cochran.
At a Monday press conference outside the Jackson offices of his chief attorney, Mitch Tyner, McDaniel said voting irregularities across the state - and not Mississippi's registered Republicans - pushed Cochran to a nearly 8,000-vote victory.
The campaign is asking the state Republican Executive Committee to overturn the election and name McDaniel the GOP nominee for November's general election.
Evidence provided to the Mississippi Republican Executive Committee, Tyner said, proves that McDaniel actually won the election by 25,000 votes.
Tyner said the investigation uncovered some 9,500 questionable votes - a qualification he later interpreted as "a vote that could be brought into question, for one reason or another" - and 3,600 crossover votes.
Lawyers for the Cochran campaign called the allegations "baseless" Monday afternoon.
According to a party spokesman, Mississippi's GOP Chairman Joe Nosef and party attorney Mike Wallace were busy Tuesday reviewing the binder of evidence the McDaniel campaign submitted.
McDaniel's attorney's have asked to be given a chance to make their case to the GOP by Tuesday, Aug. 12. After Aug. 14, according to election laws, any challenge to the election will have to come through the Mississippi court system.
In a throw-back to the days of Gov. Theodore Bilbo, the McDaniel camp appears to complain in it's filing about the participation of black voters in the June 24 runoff - noting that the 10 counties where Cochran's support between the primary and the runoff increased the most are the 10 most predominantly black counties in the state.
It uses Hinds County as an example, citing the fact that Cochran's support increased by 7,955 votes between June 3 and June 24 in the "majority black and predominantly Democrat county."
An analysis of results, it added, reveals that "...with the percentage of blacks and non-blacks who make up each county's population shows that, without the predominantly Democrat voter participation in the Republican runoff, Cochran would have lost the runoff election by about 25,000 votes."
McDaniel's challenge also cites a now-debunked story from a Meridian preacher named Steve Fielder who Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has said solicited money from an out-of-state blogger to lie, on the record, about his involvement in a pay-for-votes scheme in Lauderdale County.
The report also includes a recording of Fielder, made by the blogger, claiming he helped the Cochran campaign buy votes. Fielder has recanted almost all of his story, and according to Hood, admitted he was "paid to lie."