The defiant Mississippi loser

It’s been a week since Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) won the Mississippi Republican primary, but not if you ask Chris McDaniel.

The failed Senate challenger hasn’t conceded to the six-term incumbent, and shows no signs of doing so anytime soon. Instead, the state senator is looking into legal routes to challenge the 6,693-vote margin he says was orchestrated through, at best, illegitimate voter targeting, and at worst through illegal vote-buying.

Mississippi has no statute to force a recount, so McDaniel’s only recourse to challenge the outcome of an election that conservatives have widely panned is through legal means. He and his supporters remain skeptical of the results because Cochran, who finished second in the primary, reached out to African-American voters to boost him in the runoff three weeks later.

McDaniel is still in campaign mode, convinced he can overturn the deficit.
His campaign has more than 150 staff and volunteers fanned out across the state, comparing poll books from the June 3 Democratic primary to those from the June 24 GOP runoff to see if any voters showed up in both elections.

Those duplicates would be thrown out under Mississippi election law, which bars participation in one party’s primary and then another party’s runoff. The state doesn’t register voters by party, however, and has an open primary system, which allows those who may consider themselves Democrats but didn’t vote in the Democratic primary to vote in the GOP runoff…

….Election law expert Rick Hasen said McDaniel and his allies have a tough case to prove, however.

“To even have a plausible claim they’re going to have to get over 6,000 illegitimate votes. There are lots of people who have similar names,” said Hasen. “It all depends on what evidence they come forward with. Right now it’s a lot of talk. They need to publicly show their evidence, either to a court or release it publicly.”

McDaniel’s continued rabble-rousing runs the risk of further dividing an already splintered Republican Party as it gears up for Cochran’s general election fight. Though he’s heavily favored to defeat Democrat Travis Childers, a number of prominent Mississippi Republicans, including state GOP Chairman Joe Nosef and Sen. Roger Wicker (R), expressed concerns over the party’s ability to unify before the runoff came to a close.

Cochran’s team dismissed such concerns, with strategist Stuart Stevens saying they’re not looking back.

“We have moved onto the general election. The primary is over. We have [moved on], and so has the public,” Stevens told The Hill.

Stevens suggested McDaniel was keeping the issue alive because it’s a solid moneymaker for the candidate and he’s got significant campaign debt — $100,100 at the beginning of June — to pay off….

…And Hasen said claims like the vote-buying allegations could ultimately hurt McDaniel’s cause.

“The campaign doesn’t do itself any favors when it lets unsubstantiated rumors mix with plausible legal theories,” he said.

The Hill
7/1/14