JACKSON — U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran won the state’s Republican primary runoff over challenger Chris McDaniel by 7,667 votes, according to a certification made by the state Republican Party and submitted to the Secretary of State yesterday, the legal deadline.
The result was wider than the 6,800-vote win counted by The Associated Press after the June election. Tallies usually change as county parties examine provisional ballots and finalize results.
McDaniel, a state senator from Ellisville, has said he intends to challenge his loss. He said he believes that possibly thousands of voters cast ballots in both the Democratic primary and the Republican runoff, which is illegal. He has not released any documents to support his claim.
McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner told a news conference at the Hinds County Courthouse yesterday that it could be days before the campaign is ready to move ahead with a challenge.
Tyner said campaign workers first have to complete an investigation into how many voters cast ballots in both the June 3 Democratic primary and the June 24 GOP runoff. Mississippi voters don’t register by party, but state law bans people from voting in one party’s primary and the other party’s runoff in the same election cycle.
He said campaign workers were also looking for improperly cast absentee ballots.
“When I vote, and there’s an ineligible voter that also votes, he dilutes my vote, he dilutes your vote,” Tyner said.
Tyner said workers were in most of the state’s 82 counties examining ballot boxes yesterday.
In an interview with WLOX-TV yesterday, McDaniel remarked that “there’s no timetable for justice.”
“We’re going to find the corruption that exists in Mississippi, if it exists, and we’re going to put an end to it once and for all,” he said.
Under state law, McDaniel would first have to file any challenge with the Mississippi Republican Party executive committee. He could file a lawsuit seeking a new election 10 days after that.
The Cochran campaign said yesterday that it has representatives in every county to watch as McDaniel representatives examine ballot boxes.
“The county-by-county results reported thus far are revealing an extremely low number of crossover votes from the June 24th election,” Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell said in a statement.
“As the process moves forward, the conversation is shifting from wild, baseless accusations to hard facts. As we have said from the beginning, the runoff results are clear: The majority of Mississippians voted for Senator Thad Cochran.”
Russell told The Associated Press the Cochran campaign had found one crossover vote out of more than 2,000 votes cast in Perry County; three crossovers out of more than 4,000 votes cast in Pontotoc County; five crossovers out of about 2,000 votes cast in Leake County; and seven crossovers out of more than 11,000 votes cast in Lauderdale County.
The Republican nominee will face two candidates in the Nov. 4 general election: Democratic former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers and the Reform Party’s Shawn O’Hara, who has run unsuccessfully for several statewide offices over the past 23 years.