Armed with what he said are more than 15,000 questionable votes, Chris McDaniel announced Monday that he is formally challenging the results of a June primary runoff against incumbent Thad Cochran. Cochran won the election by 7,667 votes, largely due to an influx of Democrats who crossed over to vote in the election.
“They asked us to put up or shut up,” McDaniel said at a news conference. “Here we are. Here we are with the evidence.”
According to Mitch Tyner, McDaniel's lead attorney, the campaign has found evidence of 3,500 illegal crossover votes -- illegal because a number of them appear to have voted in both the Democratic primary and the GOP runoff. Tyner said he had evidence of 9,500 irregular votes and 2,275 absentee votes improperly cast in the run-off.
Instead of going to court, Tyner said the campaign will file a challenge with the executive committee of the state Republican Party and ask them to declare McDaniel the winner. The campaign also argued in a press release that the state party's rule 11(b) says candidates can only be elected by GOP voters.
“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 for the state of Mississippi for the United States Senate,” Tyner said to applause.
The matter, however, could still end up in court. The Washington Post said in an article heavily tilted towards Cochran that "it seems unlikely" the committee will simply hand the victory to McDaniel. Should the committee not reverse the results of the election, Tyner said his team is ready to go to court.
"We know that the conservative movement is passionate about this issue," McDaniel said. "We know the conservative movement is very angry."
Not only does the integrity of the election process matter, he said, "but likewise the integrity of the Republican party in its primary system, it matters as well."