McDaniel moves toward runoff challenge

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) will file a challenge to the results of his primary battle with Sen. Thad Cochran (R) with the Mississippi Republican Executive Committee on Monday.

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McDaniel will unveil the challenge during a Monday afternoon press conference, his campaign confirmed to The Hill; the press conference was announced to reporters last week and teased as an opportunity for McDaniel “to announce a major development regarding the results of the June 24 runoff election.”

Cochran won the fierce primary fight in the runoff, finishing with a 7,667-vote lead when the results were certified, unanimously, by the Mississippi GOP Executive Committee more than a month ago.

McDaniel has yet to concede, however, and he’s accused Cochran’s team of “stealing” the election, in part by courting African-American Democrats to head to the polls for the senator in the runoff. McDaniel and his supporters have spent the subsequent weeks poring over poll books, looking for irregular votes. They claim they’ve found more than 8,300 irregular votes — more than enough, they believe, to challenge the runoff results in court and successfully win a special election re-do of the race.

Until now, however, McDaniel hasn't offered proof for his claims. His campaign says they’ll unveil hard evidence on Monday, adding that the number of irregular votes has gone up.

The challenge filed with the executive committee will be the first step toward filing an official legal challenge in court.

McDaniel's refusal to concede the race has drawn criticism, even within the conservative movement. Most notably, conservative commentator Ann Coulter said he should give up the fight. And some Mississippi Republicans have expressed concerns that the protracted primary fight could hurt the party.

But McDaniel's kept a loyal cadre of supporters throughout the process, and on Sunday afternoon, they were rallying for the battle ahead.

Late Sunday, Pat Bruce, the well-connected chairman of the Madison County Conservative Coalition, sent an email to conservatives in the state featuring a “prayer request” from state Sen. Michael Watson, an outspoken supporter of the challenge and a surrogate for McDaniel on the trail.

Watson called for readers to “pray that corruption is exposed and justice is served … for wisdom for all involved … that those who have no fear of the Lord will have no voice … for repentance.”

“There will be a time to fight, but right now is the time to pray,” he added.

“And please pray for me. It is going to get hard before it gets easy. We need perseverance and wisdom.”

Watson concluded by declaring, “we stand on Psalm 37,” which opens: “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”