In yesterday’s Mississippi runoff election to decide the state’s Republican Senate nominee, Sen. Thad Cochran received about 51 percent of the vote to Chris McDaniel’s 49 percent. Only 7,000 votes separate the two, but McDaniel says it’s not over yet.
“Today, the conservative movement took a backseat to liberal Democrats,” McDaniel said in his post-election speech.
McDaniel alluded to reports of “voting irregularities,” hinting that his team may be considering legal options agains the Cochran campaign. According to CNN, the Cochran camp admitted that Democrats probably won them the election.
Per Mississippi law, Democrats who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary in the state are not allowed to vote in Tuesday’s Republican election.
“We must ensure the sanctity of the vote is upheld,” McDaniel said. “Before this race ends, we must be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.”
The Cochran campaign reportedly issued robocalls targeting African-American Democrats to vote for the long-time Senator, painting McDaniel as a racist.
They also sent out flyers like these:
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) June 24, 2014
After a relatively quiet primary race, McDaniel forced a runoff election on June 3. Since then, an oftentimes incoherent Cochran became much more visible on the campaign trail, leading to a nasty battle between the two. Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell held a fundraiser for Cochran, raising over $800,000 in a single night. McConnell has expressed his disdain for the Tea Party on more than one occasion, saying privately that he thinks incumbents will “crush” Tea Party candidates “everywhere.”
Meanwhile, the Tea Party-backed McDaniel pointed to anti-incumbent sentiment and recent polls as proof that they had momentum going into yesterday’s election.
Cochran repeatedly called McDaniel “dangerous” and “extreme” over the last several weeks.
“There is nothing extreme about wanting to balance a budget,” McDaniel said in his post-election speech to a room packed with enthusiastic supporters.
“We live in the greatest country in the history of the world. It is an oasis in a desert of barbarism and cynicism. We conservatives have a responsibility to keep it that way.”
McDaniel went on to say that establishment Republicans have abandoned core Republican principles.
“We are going to stand for our Founders and the lessons of Reagan, even when those within our own party shun us and ostracize us,” he said.
McDaniel did not mention Cochran by name in the speech, instead alluding to the GOP establishment that rallied behind Cochran after McDaniel accumulated more votes in the June 3 primary.
“This is not the party of Reagan, but we’re not done fighting. And when we’re done, it will be.”