The Nastiest Election Fight In America Still Won't Die

Chris McDaniel

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel will officially announce the beginning of a legal challenge to the results of the June 24 Republican Senate primary runoff election.
McDaniel’s campaign confirmed his intention to challenge the results to Business Insider. On Friday, McDaniel’s campaign teased he would hold a press conference at 3:30 p.m. ET on Monday to make a “major announcement,” which would be held at the offices of Mitch Tyner, the campaign’s lawyer in the post-runoff period.

“The challenge is with the Mississippi Republican state executive committee,” a McDaniel campaign spokesperson told Business Insider.

McDaniel’s decision to fight the runoff results, while not ultimately surprising, comes nearly six weeks after he was defeated in the Republican primary runoff by incumbent GOP Sen. Thad Cochran. In the immediate aftermath of the election, McDaniel refused to concede and claimed Cochran had “stolen” the race through an unusual strategy of encouraging voters who don’t typically participate in Republican primaries to come to the polls.

The Mississippi Republican Party certified the results of the runoff election on July 8, giving Cochran a margin of victory of more than 7,600 votes. Cochran’s campaign has dismissed McDaniel’s challenge and has made a point of focusing on the general election.

The McDaniel campaign claimed it has found thousands of voter “irregularities” in reviewing the runoff election results, as well as a number of illegal “crossover” votes from Democrats who shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the June 24 Republican primary runoff. The Cochran campaign, while releasing detailed, specific county-by-county breakdowns, says there aren’t even close to as many questionable votes as the McDaniel campaign would need to mount a legitimate challenge.

Mississippi election law, which mandates runoffs between the top two candidates if no candidate in a primary earns over 50% of the vote, bars people from voting in one party’s primary and then crossing over to vote in another party’s runoff. Though there are few procedures to enforce this, the law says only people who voted in the Republican primary or didn’t vote at all were eligible to vote in the June 24 runoff.

“That’s just not true,” the source in the Cochran campaign told Business Insider of the supposed number of “irregularities.”

The McDaniel campaign’s continued refusal to surrender has continued the flame wars of an election many called the “nastiest” in the country. In early July, a source close to the Cochran campaign told Business Insider as part of a lengthy diatribe that McDaniel was mad the Cochran campaign “kicked his arse” and that he was the “sorest loser I’ve ever seen.”

“Chris McDaniel is a trial lawyer, and he’s acting like one. He’s throwing out false flags and things that just aren’t true, and trying to get them into the news stream,” the source said of McDaniel’s refusal to concede.

Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell told Business Insider the campaign will comment on the planned challenge after the press conference.

This post will be updated after McDaniel speaks.

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