McDaniel’s Lonely Fight

by Eliana Johnson

Chris McDaniel continues to dispute the results of Mississippi’s June 23 runoff election in which Thad Cochran emerged victorious by a narrow margin. Cochran won, most infer, by drawing black Democrats to the polls and promising to use his seniority to heap government largesse on his relatively poor state. 

It was the largesse of outside groups that made McDaniel, a state senator, a viable candidate to pick off a six-term incumbent in the first place. They spent over $7 million dollars on his behalf. Since what most consider to be his defeat a week and a half ago, those groups have largely packed it up despite his desire to continue the fight. 

We just don’t even pay attention to it because we’re just doing other stuff now,” said an employee from one group that backed McDaniel’s primary bid. “I think pretty much everybody has moved on. As far as we’re concerned it’s done.” The senior-most outside advisers who were working with him are on vacation. 

A few of the groups remain. True the Vote, founded to support election integrity and transparency, has filed a lawsuit to help McDaniel gain access to voter rolls. His goal is to show that thousands of citizens who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary crossed over to vote in the Republican runoff, something that is prohibited by law. ​

Some raised eyebrows today when McDaniel offered a $1,000 reward to anybody who could “provide evidence leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in voter fraud.” (He has launched a website to fund the rewards.) Since the day after the runoff, he has been trying to review voter rolls to find evidence of voter fraud. Earlier this week, an allegation that the Cochran campaign purchased black votes sent the state into a tailspin, culminating yesterday in a Cochran campaign conference call that devolved into what The Daily Beast termed “the biggest campaign sh*tshow of 2014.” 

But for McDaniel, the most important people — those who would put big money behind an effort to dispute the results of the election – have stopped paying attention.