Defeated Tea Party Senate Candidate Tries to Sue His Way to Mississippi GOP Nomination

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 14 2014 9:42 PM

Defeated Tea Party Senate Candidate Tries to Sue His Way to Mississippi GOP Nomination

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A combination photo shows Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (L) and Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel (R).

REUTERS/Lee Celano (L) REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (R)

Mississippi’s GOP primary runoff in June wrapped up a Senate campaign battle that was all kinds of ugly. But if vanquished State Senator Chris McDaniel has his way the ugliness may have just begun. McDaniel, a tea party-inspired candidate, asked a Mississippi court on Thursday to declare him the winner of the runoff election he lost to incumbent Senator Thad Cochran by some 7,000 votes.

McDaniel, in his suit, takes issue with the Cochran campaign’s attempts to woo Mississippi Democrats to vote in the Republican runoff claiming “that Mississippi GOP officials violated the rights of real Republicans by allowing people to vote who didn't intend to support the Republican nominee in November,” the Associated Press reports. “Primary voters are indeed bound by law to support the party's nominee in the general election, though courts have said that law can't be enforced… Mississippi voters are banned from voting in one party's primary and another party's runoff.”

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Here’s more from the AP on the case McDaniel is making:

McDaniel first asks that the court throw out the June 24 results from Jackson's Hinds County and "other counties proved to have permitted widespread vote fraud," declaring him the winner by subtracting counties that Cochran won. McDaniel has criticized Cochran for reaching out to black voters who traditionally support Democrats. Turnout increased from the primary to the runoff, and Cochran fared well in many majority-black precincts. If the court instead orders a new election, McDaniel asked that the state GOP be required to enforce the law about supporting the party's nominee. However, the lawsuit did not say how it could be enforced in a state where voters don't register by party. It says only that false Republicans violate the First Amendment "associational freedom" of true party members. Mississippi voters are banned from voting in one party's primary and another party's runoff. McDaniel's campaign, after weeks of examining ballots and other voting records, claimed it found about 3,500 people who illegally voted in the June 3 Democratic primary and June 24 runoff. McDaniel said workers found about 9,500 "irregular" votes and 2,275 "improperly" cast absentee ballots, though the campaign hasn't said what made those votes irregular.

“McDaniel faces high hurdles to convince a judge to take either action: it would be unprecedented for a court to order a do-over of a statewide election, and part of his argument in the lawsuit hinges on an unenforceable law,” according to the AP.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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