“They had a ground game [Tuesday] that they didn’t have in the primary,” said George Flaggs Jr., the Vicksburg mayor, who sent the e-mail urging support for Cochran. “They mobilized through churches with literature and pamphlets. They put more signs up in black areas. They made the election about the man and not the party.”
The effort to appeal to Democrats faced a furious backlash Wednesday from some conservatives, led by McDaniel, who decried the strategy during a speech to supporters Tuesday night in which he refused to concede the race.
The McDaniel campaign said Wednesday that the election was “rife with irregularities” because of the efforts to bring Democrats to the polls, and issued a statement quoting McDaniel vowing to consider a potential legal challenge.
“We must be absolutely certain that our Republican primary was won by Republican voters,” the campaign statement quoted McDaniel as saying. “In the coming days, our team will look into the irregularities to determine whether a challenge is warranted.”
Adding to the strange bedfellows nature of Tuesday’s vote, McDaniel’s suspicions were echoed Wednesday by an unlikely ally: the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party. Many Democrats had hoped that a McDaniel victory might have created an unexpected opportunity by producing a weaker general-election nominee.