JACKSON — Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef says Chris McDaniel should hurry up and challenge the June 24 runoff results if McDaniel intends to do so.
“Since some have said they believe this election was stolen, every day that goes by without either a challenge or concession is bad for everyone involved, no matter which side of this primary someone happened to be on,” Nosef said in a statement.
The state party certified that McDaniel lost to incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran by almost 7,700 votes. McDaniel says he’s trying to prove enough improper votes were cast that a judge will void the runoff and order a new one.
On July 16, McDaniel lawyer Mitch Tyner said the campaign would likely file within 10 days. McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch said the state senator from Ellisville might file sometime next week.
Fritsch said McDaniel is seeking access to election records in local courts and isn’t ready.
“Instead of parroting a Cochran staffer’s stale talking points, Mr. Nosef should show true leadership and advocate for election integrity by asking all circuit clerks to comply with the McDaniel campaign’s requests for access to election records, as most already have,” Fritsch said in a statement.
McDaniel lost a case before the state Supreme Court seeking to require local clerks to give him, without charge, access to voting records that included voters’ birthdates. The court found clerks should redact birth dates and charge McDaniel for doing the work and making copies.
There’s no deadline to challenge in Mississippi, but state law urges judges to decide primary challenges before general election ballots are printed. State law says sample ballots must be given to local election officials by Sept. 10, which is 55 days before the Nov. 4 general election. That squeezes the timeline for a lawsuit and a new primary runoff. State law says a court could order a new primary even after the general election.
McDaniel has released no evidence supporting his claims that there were thousands of voting irregularities in the Republican runoff. The Cochran camp said it found through its own count that about 1,000 people illegally voted in the June 24 runoff after voting in the June 3 Democratic primary. Mississippi voters do not register by party, but state law bans people from voting in one party’s primary and another party’s runoff in the same cycle.
Cochran spokesman Jordan Russell declined comment Friday, saying the campaign is focused on the November general election. The Nov. 4 ballot will also include Democratic former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers and the Reform Party’s Shawn O’Hara.