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GOP Rejects McDaniel Challenge

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, August 7, the Mississippi Republican Party has refused to hear a challenge from State Senator Chris McDaniel (R) of the results of its June Republican Party U.S. Senate runoff, which McDaniel lost by just over 7,000 votes to Mississippi’s longtime Senator Thad Cochran (R).

Alabama resident and conservative activist, Shaun McCutcheon who is supporting McDaniel’s efforts called the Mississippi election results a sham. McCutcheon said in a written statement to his supporters, “The Mississippi GOP has refused to overturn the sham runoff election that handed Thad Cochran an illegitimate victory.  Yes, this is a setback for Chris McDaniel and for us, but the fight is far from over.”

McCutcheon is the Chairman of the Conservative Action Fund.  McCutcheon is an engineer but he is best known for his successful U.S. Supreme Court challenge to decades old campaign finances laws.

McCutcheon said that his, “Conservative Action Fund was on the front lines fighting for Chris McDaniel. I personally donated $1,776 to Chris McDaniel and filed a complaint with the Mississippi Secretary of State – and they’ve forwarded our complaint for review by the Mississippi Attorney General!”

McCutcheon continued, “Thanks to you and your support, the McDaniel campaign uncovered 15,000 tainted votes in the runoff election – including thousands of the exact kind of “crossover” voters I identified in my complaint, and laid out clear precedent for their use in overturning the election results! Now, Chris McDaniel is demanding the Mississippi GOP overturn the election results and declare that the Republican primary candidate with the most Republican votes be the Republican nominee!”  “And what was Thad Cochran’s response to all this? They aren’t protesting their innocence, they’re just saying it can’t be proven in Court – NOT that they didn’t steal the election, but that there is nothing we the people can do to hold him accountable!!”

McCutcheon said, “The complaint I filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State is now under review by the Mississippi Attorney General. This complaint could ultimately be the route that overturns the results and helps Chris McDaniel achieve the victory he deserves.”

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McCutcheon wrote, “The establishment Republicans were so desperate to keep Thad Cochran in office, they openly lured Democrats who were legally ineligible to vote in the runoff to cast ballots for Cochran.  The establishment Republicans obviously underestimated our resolve. Chris McDaniel and the Conservative Action Fund have been fighting tooth and nail against their crooked scheme.  We cannot let Thad Cochran get away with his illegitimate runoff victory.”

Mississippi, like Alabama, still has open primaries where any voter can vote in either party primary.  It appears that Chris McDaniel may have won the most Republican votes, but Democrats and independents who voted in the Republican Primary Runoff likely were responsible for swaying the vote to the venerable Senator Cochran.

According to original reporting by Salon’s Jim Newell, the Mississippi GOP chairman, Joe Nosef said in a letter to McDaniel’s lawyer, Mitch Tyner that, “Mississippi Republican Party Bylaws require 7 days notice of any meeting of the State Executive Committee,” and Mississippi election code requires that “any petition for judicial review must be filed in court” by the party by August 14 giving the party, “At most, one day to at a minimum: 1. consider and determine the proper procedural rules that should govern an unprecedented proceeding of this type; 2. hear and vote on legal arguments regarding the timeliness of this challenge, see Kellum v. Johnson, 115 So. 2d 147 (Miss. 1959) (which appears to impose a 20 day time limit from therunoff to file a challenge); 3. issue fiats to the various county executive committee chairmen across the state implicated by the challenge, have each committee investigate the complaint and return their findings to the chairman of the state committee; 4. hear testimony from the potentially dozens of witnesses who have been named in the challenge; 5. examine the wide variety of evidence cited in the challenge and presented by other interested parties; and 6. finally, engage in proper deliberation and render a decision on the challenge.”

Chairman Nosef concluded, “Given the extraordinary relief requested of overturning a United States Senate primary in which over 360,000 Mississippians cast votes, the only way to ensure the integrity of the election process and provide a prudent review of this matter is in a court of law.”

Republicans nationally are becoming concerned that the continuing bickering among Republican factions in Mississippi could potentially cost the GOP a Senate seat in one of the reddest states in the Union in a year in which Republicans are trying desperately to win back the U.S. Senate, which they have not controlled since 2006.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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