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Conservative Lawsuit Challenges Cochran Runoff Win

Thad Cochran defeated Chris McDaniel, above, in the GOP runoff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Thad Cochran defeated Chris McDaniel, above, in the GOP runoff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A conservative group has taken up state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s cause, filing a lawsuit against the Mississippi Secretary of State and the Republican Party of Mississippi  to challenge the results of the recent runoff for Senate.  

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., defeated McDaniel by a 6,700-vote margin in the June 24 runoff and won the GOP nomination.  

Now a conservative group, True the Vote, alleged Wednesday they were denied access to election records, specifically in Hinds and Rankin Counties. They also allege that they found evidence of unlawful “double-voting,” in which Mississippians who voted in the Democratic primary later voted in the Republican runoff three weeks later.  

But McDaniel and his supporters face long odds to overturn the results of the runoff. Mississippi state election law has no provision for a recount, and observers say McDaniel is unlikely to find enough illegally cast votes to make up the difference between him and Cochran. What’s more, it’s difficult to prove a runoff voter does not plan to vote for a Republican in the general election.  

Still, McDaniel has refused to concede in the week since the runoff. He alleges Cochran won with the support of Democrats who did not intend to support him in the general election. McDaniel has also been sending fundraising emails asking people to help him mount his own lawsuit to challenge the election.  

In a fundraising email sent Wednesday, McDaniel called the election “a sham” and said his campaign had “already found thousands of irregularities in the voting process.” He also voiced support for the grounds of True the Vote lawsuit.  

“True the Vote is concerned with maintaining the integrity of Mississippi’s election process,” McDaniel said in a statement. “The voters should be able to trust that the manner in which their elected officials are chosen is not compromised, and that the rule of law is adhered to. It is vital we be allowed to examine election data to make sure that happens.”  

McDaniel’s allies also alleged Democrats were paid $15 per vote.  

“Thad Cochran defeated tea party challenger Chris McDaniel by a few thousand votes but we have learned that voter fraud and offering to pay Democrat voters $15 per vote is what tipped the election in Cochran’s favor,” wrote Todd Cefaratti in a fundraising please for TeaParty.Net.  

The race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.  

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