It was a tale of dirty politics in the Mississippi mud.
News stories told of alleged “voter irregularities.” Bribes. Lawsuits. Racial politics. Back-alley bargains between party bigwigs designed to drown out the little guy. In the end, the tea-party challenger was left looking on, while the governor’s man coasted to another nomination.
But a 4-2 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling on Friday essentially ended GOP challenger Chris McDaniel’s appeal for investigation into the state’s hotly contested primary runoff on June 24.
The justices agreed with the defense, which claimed McDaniel waited too long to contest incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran’s victory.
The Cochran campaign’s attorneys, Butler Snow Law Firm, released the following statement Friday: “Today’s ruling by Mississippi’s highest court brings an end to the challenge of the primary runoff election and reconfirms the voters’ choice of Thad Cochran as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. As we have said from the beginning, regardless of the timeliness of the challenge, the facts continue to show this has always been a baseless challenge, and the will of the voters has now been validated by the Mississippi Supreme Court.”
McDaniel doesn’t agree with that interpretation of the court’s ruling, but he has since conceded it’s time to “turn the page” on the primary contest.
“Republicans in Mississippi are still left wanting for justice,” McDaniel argued. “Worse yet, the courts refused even to hear our challenge.
“But now it is time to turn the page and work to enact true conservative change in Mississippi and in Washington, D.C.,” McDaniel continued. “It is my hope that conservatives in Mississippi will view this decision as a motivating factor to get involved in Republican politics so we can change our state for the better for future generations.
“In the coming days, I’ll be asking conservatives to join us as we continue our fight for principled leadership,” concluded McDaniel. “The fight to save our republic is only just beginning.”
As WND reported, McDaniel originally won the June 3 state GOP primary with a margin too small (about 1,500 votes) to avoid a runoff.
Cochran then won the June 24 runoff with 7,000 votes, allegedly by convincing thousands of black Democrats to cross over and vote for him.
“We’ve already found thousands of irregularities in the voting process,” the McDaniel campaign alleged at the time. “According to Mississippi state law, Democrats who voted in the Democratic primary cannot vote in the Republican runoff, and that is exactly what happened.”
The campaign’s statement continued, “But that’s not all. RedState published an interview that alleges that the Cochran campaign conspired with a Mississippi reverend to buy the votes of African American voters, who happen to be Democrats. This appears to be corruption at its worst. Political operatives have intentionally subverted the integrity of our election process, and we absolutely must fight back.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, agreed with McDaniel that there needed to be an investigation.
“What happened in Mississippi was appalling,” Cruz said on the Mark Levin Show. “Primaries are always rough and tumble. But the conduct of the Washington, D.C., machine in the Mississippi runoff was incredibly disappointing.”
McDaniel’s lead attorney in the lawsuit, Mitch Tyner, would not rule out a federal lawsuit to try to overturn the primary, WTVA in Tupelo, Mississippi, reports.