Thanks in large part to Democrats, Republican Thad Cochran narrowly won Tuesday's primary runoff election against Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel. But, Breitbart.com reported, McDaniel isn't sitting still and is set to challenge the results, citing what he called "literally dozens of irregularities" across the state.
"I want to be very, very clear," he told supporters. "There is nothing dangerous or extreme about wanting to balance a budget.”
"There is nothing dangerous or extreme about defending the Constitution or the civil liberties therein," he added. "There is nothing strange at all about standing as people of faith for a country that we built, that we believe in. But there is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual, about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats.”
McDaniel went on to say that Cochran's decision to seek support from Democrats was "un-Republican," Breitbart said.
“So much for bold colors,” McDaniel said. “So much for principle. I guess they can take some consolation in the fact that they did something tonight by once again compromising, by once again reaching across the aisle, by once again abandoning the conservative movement. I would like to know which part of that strategy today our Republican friends endorse. I would like to know which part of that strategy today our statewide officials endorse. This is not the party of Reagan, but we’re not done fighting and when we’re done it will be.”
Three Democrats interviewed by CNN admitted they voted for Cochran in the primary. While Mississippi's open primary law allows voters to cross party lines, there is a caveat. Voters are prohibited from participating in a party’s primary if they don’t intend to support that party’s candidate in the general election.
“No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in which he participates," Mississippi law says.
An advisory from the state attorney general and secretary of state published at Slate also notes that "[c]rossover voting is prohibited in the State of Mississippi."
"Crossover voting is defined as participation in the first primary of one political party and participation in the runoff primary of another party. Thus, a voter who cast his/her ballot in the Democratic Primary Election on June 3 is prohibited from casting his/her ballot in the Republican Primary Runoff Election on June 24, and vice versa," the advisory adds.
"Before this race ends," McDaniel told supporters, "we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters."
Rickey Cole, chairman of the state Democratic Party, told Breitbart he agrees that McDaniel should challenge the results.
“Clearly there was some sloppiness to say the least, and probably some failures to comply with the law,” he said. “I listened to some of McDaniel’s speech, and in a race this close I’m sure there are irregularities that ought to be looked into."
Cole said the "very first thing" he would look for are those who voted in the June 3 Democratic Party primary who were allowed to vote in the June 24 GOP runoff.
“And that’s the easiest error that poll workers can make—whether it was an honest error or deliberate, I wouldn’t know. But that’d be the most common error that happens in a runoff—where voters who weren’t qualified because they participated in the other party’s primary would be allowed to vote by mistake," he added.
He also suggested McDaniel challenge ballot affidavits and look at the numbers of those voting compared to the voter rolls.
In Hinds County, for example, there are only 20,567 Republican voters listed, but 24,889 votes were cast -- 17,927 were for Cochran and 6,962 were for McDaniel. Earlier in the month, 16,640 total votes were cast in the county -- 10,928 for Cochran and 5,621 for McDaniel. Cole agreed the numbers seemed a "bit off," Breitbart said.
Cole said it's possible a court can order a new election if enough irregularities are found.
“That’s what happened last year in the Hattiesburg mayor’s race, if you get a chance to look at that—there was all sorts of legal wrangling because of this kind of irregularity there last year. They had a whole long court trial and the judge ordered a new election and they had a new election city-wide,” he said.
He also said that any illegal activity should "absolutely" be prosecuted.
“I would say that if my brother were involved, if anybody I know was involved,” he said. “If there was any illegality, then they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law—regardless of who it is or who it favors or who it disfavors. Integrity in our elections is paramount. If people don’t believe in elections, they won’t participate in the process—and that defeats the whole purpose of having elections. People have to trust the integrity of the process.”
But right now, conservatives do not trust the process, and they do not trust the Republican establishment.
Keith Plunkett, the policy director for the McDaniel campaign, said the tactics used by Cochran and his establishment allies threaten to destroy the state GOP.
"The twisted attacks on Chris’s record in the state senate are bad enough. The unwillingness of Cochran to step forward and debate his record are bad enough. The divide and conquer tactics and the pandering to votes based on the 'pork' Cochran has brought to Mississippi are bad enough. Establishment Republicans attempting to brand other Republicans as racist and 'extreme' and 'dangerous' are bad enough," he wrote. As we reported Monday, a robocall apparently intended for Democrats attempted to brand McDaniel and the Tea Party as racists who hate Barack Obama.
"None of that in my mind is as bad as paying and bussing in Democrats to vote in the Republican runoff. What we are seeing is a group so hell-bent on retaining power that they would rather take the chance of seeing a Democrat elected in November than allow Republicans to decide the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate," he added.
"If Senator Thad Cochran wins using the tactics of boosting Democrats to participate in a Republican primary, the Republican Party in Mississippi will cease to control it’s own message. The Republican platform will cease to be anything but a useless piece of paper," he explained.
McDaniel, Politico said, has refused to concede the race to Cochran.