Two days after losing in Mississippi’s US Senate Republican primary runoff election, State Senator Chris McDaniel is still refusing to concede to the winner, incumbent Senator Thad Cochran. McDaniel and his supporters (like Sarah Palin) claim that the election results are illegal due to Democratic voters crossing over to vote in the Republican primary runoff. They point to Mississippi election law, which states that voters who participate in a primary election should intend to support the candidate they vote for in the general election. Also, voters who participated in the Democratic primary are barred from voting in another party’s runoff election.
While appearing on the Mark Levin Show Wednesday night, McDaniel said that Cochran received 35,000 Democratic votes on Tuesday. Apparently, he is counting all of the extra votes Cochran got compared to the primary election. Of course, McDaniel conveniently ignores the extra votes he got himself. He also stated as fact that a number of these voters participated in the Democratic primary, so their votes should be cast aside. On top of that, McDaniel feels that a lot of these voters will not support Cochran in the general election this coming November, so more votes should be cast aside.
We haven’t conceded and we’re not going to concede right now. We’re going to investigate.
Naturally sometimes it’s difficult to contest an election, obviously, but we do know that 35,000 Democrats crossed over. And we know many of those Democrats did vote in the Democratic primary just three weeks ago which makes it illegal.
We likewise know that we have a statute, a law in our state that says you cannot participate in a primary unless you intend to support that candidate. And we know good and well that these 35,000 democrats have no intention to do that. They’ll be voting for Travis Childers in November. We know that. They know that. And so that makes their actions illegal.
So we’re going to be fighting this.
Below is audio from the show, courtesy of The Right Scoop:
A few points need to be made. First, the Mississippi law about voters needing to support the candidates they vote for in primaries has already been ruled unenforceable by a federal appeals court. Therefore, McDaniel doesn’t have a leg to stand on if he tries to file a lawsuit centered on that law. That particular law is impossibly vague, especially since Mississippi doesn’t have party registration. There is absolutely no way you can find out if a voter stuck with a candidate in the general election. This could hardly even be called a law. It is more of an honor system.
As far as voters participating in the Democratic Senate primary and then this Republican primary runoff, McDaniel may appear to have a somewhat valid argument. In this instance, voter rolls from the Democratic primary can be compared with log sheets from the runoff. It would seem possible that some votes could be tossed aside. However, I wouldn’t bet on a huge amount. The Democratic primary had a very low turnout, especially when compared to the Republican primary. In the initial Republican primary, 313,000+ votes were cast, compared to just 75,000+ votes in the Democratic primary. The runoff pulled in an even higher number, as over 372,000 votes were counted.
McDaniel is assuming that a very large portion of the Democratic voters that participated in the runoff also voted in their own primary a few weeks ago, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Democrats in the state did not take part in that primary. My feeling is, even if the state decides to check and compare the voter rolls between the Democratic primary and Republican runoff, they’ll find very little crossover. And, even if they did, they can’t simply make the assumption that every one of these votes was for Cochran. Once again, McDaniel is left with no recourse even if he tries to go down this road.
The fact is, Mississippi effectively has an open primary system. The laws are vague and unenforceable, allowing voters from separate parties to cross over into the other primaries. Going with the assumption that Cochran got a bump in this runoff election due to Democratic participation, all he really did was game the system. McDaniel can whine about it. He can call Cochran unethical and claim that this was all ‘dirty pool,’ but that is pretty much where it ends. McDaniel lost and it is time for him to throw in the towel.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).