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POLITICS: Campaigns

Chris McDaniel campaign: Look, we don't want a do-over, we just want to be declared the winner

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mississippi,2014 Elections,Campaigns,Thad Cochran,Becket Adams,Chris McDaniel

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Monday that he will formally challenge the results of a June 24 runoff election that saw him lose to his opponent, longtime Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., claiming that he has obtained evidence proving he is the rightful victor.

“It’s been an interesting six weeks,” McDaniel told an audience that had gathered to hear his big announcement. “We’ve covered the state as well as we could with hundreds of volunteers, but justice has no timetable, and yet here we stand. They asked us to put up or shut up — well, here we are. Here we are with the evidence.”

The Tea Party-backed state senator, who absolutely refuses to concede defeat to his septuagenarian opponent, said he has evidence that proves Cochran's campaign deployed dirty tactics in order to secure a runoff election victory.

“We all witnessed what a segment of our party did leading up to the 24th. We saw despicable acts of race-baiting,” McDaniel said. “We saw despicable allegations from those who are supposed to be leaders in our party. There is no place in the Republican Party for those that would race-bait. There is no place in the Republican Party for racism of any kind, and that’s exactly what we saw on those evenings and mornings leading up to the 24th.”

“That has to end. We watched it. We witnessed it,” he added. “We saw the dirty money coming in from D.C., whether it was from Bloomberg or other Republican United States senators. We saw what they did here in Mississippi.”

Although it has been relatively careful in its wording, the McDaniel campaign has in the past blamed its June 24 loss on Cochran's courting of black Democratic voters. In fact, in a first draft of a press release obtained Monday by the Daily Caller, McDaniel's campaign repeatedly blamed the runoff loss on “black democrats.”

“Thad Cochran lost Republican votes in the runoff, but made up the difference with black democrat votes,” an initial draft of the press release said.

That line was later amended to read: “Thad Cochran lost Republican votes in the runoff and made up the difference with Democrat votes.”

The issue with crossover voting stems from the fact that Mississippi allows open primary voting, meaning any registered voter can participate in a runoff election so long as he or she did not also vote in another party’s primary on June 3.

Whether anyone broke this rule is the point of McDaniel's challenge.

"We anticipate that after they review the challenge that they'll see that Chris McDaniel clearly won the Republican vote in the runoff," McDaniel's attorney, Mitch Tyner, said at Monday's press conference, holding up a folder supposedly filled with hard evidence of Cochran's wrongdoing. "Chris McDaniel clearly won the runoff by 25,000 votes. ... We're not asking for a new election. We're simply asking that the Republican Party actually recognize the person who won the runoff election.

“After the election, we did some post-election polling. We determined that of the Democrats that did cross over, 71 percent of them admitted they will not support the Republican in the general election,” he added.

Tyner said the campaign will submit the contents of its supposed “evidence folder” to the state Republican Executive Committee, demanding that it be given a hearing on the allegations on Aug. 12.

“Once the state executive committee has had an opportunity to go through the evidence that we have included in this challenge, then they will see that they have no choice but to recognize Chris McDaniel as the nominee of the Republican Party of the state of Mississippi for the United States Senate,” Tyner said.

It's uncertain whether McDaniel's challenge will prove successful. What is certain, however, is that the entire Mississippi ordeal has been very regrettable, and embarrassing for just about everyone involved.

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