Thad Cochran camp says Chris McDaniel fudging illegal vote numbers, heckler ends media call early (updated)

State Sen. Chris McDaniel’s campaign is spreading “baseless accusations” against U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran after losing the June 24 Republican primary runoff, Cochran campaign leaders told reporters in an afternoon conference call that was cut short by a heckler.

Austin Barbour, senior adviser for the Cochran campaign, was calling out McDaniel’s campaign for “not factual” numbers regarding voting inconsistencies when an unidentified caller began to ask why Cochran “used black people” to win the runoff.

“They’re not animals,” the call hijacker said, making references to both harvesting cotton and black votes.

Barbour asked the caller to wait until the end of the call to ask questions, but the interrupter did not let up.

Barbour then ended the call and said media could contact him or campaign communications director Jordan Russell directly.

Reporters left behind on the line bickered and called the heckler unprofessional.

That’s the latest twist in a hard-fought and bitter battle between the longtime U.S. senator and McDaniel, a state senator who is backed by the tea party.

Before the call was cut short, Barbour said the McDaniel campaign has been using bad numbers in reporting voting inconsistencies.

Specifically, McDaniel’s camp has been concerned with those who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary and then illegally crossed over to vote in the Republican primary runoff.

McDaniel campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch said in an email Wednesday that the campaign has examined records in 51 of the 82 counties and found more than 4,900 voting irregularities, most of which they think are people voting as Democrats June 3 then as Republicans June 24. The McDaniel campaign has not released documents to back up its findings.

In an email Wednesday, McDaniel requested donations to help cover legal expenses.

“Thanks to illegal voting from liberal Democrats, my opponent stole last week’s runoff election, but I’m not going down without a fight,” McDaniel wrote. “I have not given up on sending my conservative values to Washington. Please, stand with me as I fight this injustice until the very end.”

Barbour gave multiple examples that he said is “evidence” that McDaniel is using bad numbers.

In the Fondren Presbyterian voting precinct in Hinds County, McDaniel’s campaign has said it has issues with 190 votes, Barbour said, but there were only 25 voters who cast ballots in the June 3 Democratic primary.

“That was pretty hard evidence,” he said.

In the Eastover precinct in the Jackson area, Barbour said, McDaniel claims 130 votes could be illegal. But there were only 35 Democratic voters casting ballots there in the primary, he said.

“Their numbers just didn’t make sense,” Barbour said shortly before he ended the call. “The time has come for the McDaniel camp and their allies to put up or shut up.”