Conservative commentator Ann Coulter defended Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) primary win over Chris McDaniel and criticized his supporters for pushing him to contest the results, warning they could ruin his political future in Mississippi.
“McDaniel's passionate supporters think that a moment of crisis for the country is a good time to treat control of the Senate as if it's a prom queen election,” she added.
Coulter suggested in the op-ed that it’s McDaniel’s supporters who are pushing him to contest the runoff results and warned that, “even in cases of actual vote fraud, history shows that the contesting politicians get branded as sore losers and destroy their political careers.”
“Better to be magnanimous and live to fight another day.”
Establishment Republicans argued in the primary that Democrats would have a better shot at the seat if McDaniel won the nomination, giving Democrats a pickup opportunity and a chance to pad their fragile six-seat majority against any Republican wins this fall.
Cochran was declared the winner of his hard-fought runoff battle with McDaniel two weeks ago, but the challenger has yet to concede and has spent the past two weeks gathering evidence to contest the results in court, hoping to force a special election.
McDaniel and his supporters have accused Cochran of “stealing” the primary by aggressively courting African American Democrats, which turnout data indicates did indeed help drive him to an improbable win. But Coulter, who typically aligns herself with conservatives and has endorsed incumbent challengers before, disagreed.
“There's no reason to think that a majority of Mississippi Republicans didn't want Cochran as their nominee. A lot of them might not have bothered to vote in the first primary, on the assumption that the long-serving, popular incumbent was not at risk,” she wrote.
Coulter also said McDaniel’s supporters “looked like clowns and nuts,” pointing to controversy surrounding three of his supporters that locked themselves in a county courthouse on primary night, and prior to that, the saga of the McDaniel supporter that was arrested for sneaking into Cochran’s wife’s nursing home to take photos of her.
She warned that if his supporters keep pushing him to contest the primary, they could undermine his political future — which may develop, she says, sooner than later, as Cochran “isn’t getting any younger.”
“But some McDaniel supporters can't think about anything but winning this one primary. They don't care that they're gambling with a Republican majority in the Senate — or destroying McDaniel's future prospects. (Which could come soon — Cochran isn't getting any younger.) As the nation goes up in smoke, they act as if the future of the country is nothing compared to their color war at summer camp,” she writes.
McDaniel's campaign dismissed the op-ed, however, with spokesman Noel Fritsch saying their challenge to the outcome was about more than just who won the race.
"Despite the efforts of some in the Republican establishment to cast the people's effort in Mississippi as being about a win or a loss, the truth is conservative Republicans here and across America are demanding a full accounting of the race-baiting tactics and an investigation into the allegations of criminal misconduct in Mississippi, with the goal being to return integrity to the Republican Party," he said.
"Conservatives across America have the unique opportunity to stand and be heard, and in so doing they can fill the void of leadership that has watched idly as Republican leaders in Mississippi employed the despicable tactics of racial division and class warfare for the sole purpose of holding onto power."
—This piece was updated at 7:39 p.m. to reflect comment from the McDaniel campaign.