Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) and his legal team formally announced on Monday his legal challenge to the runoff results of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, saying he won the nomination by 25,000 votes on June 24 and asked the party to award him the nomination without holding another election.
McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner (pictured right), with McDaniel standing next to him, announced the McDaniel campaign would file a formal challenge to the election results with the state executive committee of the Republican Party.
“They asked us to put up or shut up. Here we are. Here we are with the evidence,” McDaniel said.
The announcement came about six weeks after the runoff election, which Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) won. Since the election McDaniel and his supporters have been poring over poll books to find examples of illegal crossover voting. McDaniel has argued that he is actually the true Republican nominee for Senate and that Cochran and the incumbent senator’s supporters only won through “race-baiting” and courting Democratic votes.
“Through the acts that they took, the actions that they took, they moved over 40,000 Democrats into the Republican primary. And in so doing, mistakes were made,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said that his team would show “what we’re going to show is a pattern of conduct the part of a number of people that demonstrates a problem with this election.”
Tyner said that his team had found 3,500 illegal crossover votes. Tyner also said they’ve found 9,500 questionable votes and then an additional 2,275 absentee ballots that were improperly cast.
McDaniel ultimately won the runoff by 25,000 votes, Tyner claimed. That 25,000 number seems to be the McDaniel team factoring Democrats who voted in the Republican primary but don’t plan to vote for the Republican nominee in the general election. McDaniel and his team have argued that under Mississippi law, anyone who votes in the primary is bound to support the eventual nominee of that primary. But the Mississippi law that the team is basing that on is unenforceable and was overturned by a federal judge in 2008.
“We anticipate that after they review the challenge that they’ll see that Chris McDaniel clearly, clearly won the Republican vote on the runoff,” Tyner said. “I say that very assuredly because that’s what the mathematics show.”
Tyner went on to say they were not looking to hold another election.
“So, the short answer is that we’re not asking for a new election,” Tyner said. “We’re simply asking that the Republican Party actually recognize the person who won the runoff election.”
The Cochran campaign quickly released a statement from campaign attorney Mark Garriga saying that the law firm Butler Snow had been retained to defend the election contest:
We can confirm that Butler Snow has been retained by Citizens for Cochran to defend the election contest filed today by the Chris McDaniel campaign with the State Executive Committee of the Mississippi Republican Party. Like other Mississippians, we have watched with interest as the McDaniel campaign has made repeated and baseless allegations of fraud and misconduct against not only members of the Cochran campaign staff, but also Circuit Clerks and volunteer poll workers around the state.
The filing of this challenge marks the point where this matter moves from an arena of press conferences and rhetoric into a setting where nothing matters but admissible evidence and the rule of law. We look forward to holding the McDaniel campaign to the burden of proof that the law requires – and, we are dedicated to the defense of the votes of those Mississippians who voted on June 24 for Thad Cochran as their United States Senator, an election which has been as thoroughly reviewed and examined as any in modern Mississippi history.
This post was updated.