Cochran respects GOP decision, confident of victory in November

Published 12:13 am Friday, August 8, 2014

NATCHEZ — U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran said Thursday he respects the decision of the Mississippi Republican Party to hear a challenge to his primary election victory.

The state party’s executive committee declined Wednesday to hear the challenge from candidate Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, on the basis the party’s bylaws require a seven-day notice before the executive committee can meet.

The required notice would mean the committee wouldn’t be able to meet until Aug. 13, one day before the deadline for any contests to the election could be filed in court. The party’s chair, Joe Nosef, wrote Wednesday that protecting the rights of voters and candidates would best be done in the courts.

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“Hopefully, this can all be worked out with lawyers without the involvement of the courts,” Cochran said. “This needs to be done so there will be some clarity in November.”

Cochran said he looks forward to aggressively campaigning throughout the fall.

“I am confident we are going to win,” he said.

Cochran came in second to McDaniel in a three-man primary in early June in which no candidate took 50 percent of the vote, but won the June 24 runoff by 7,667 votes.

McDaniel has challenged the legality of votes suspected to be cast by Democrats who crossed party lines to vote for Cochran. A witness who at one time said the Cochran campaign had paid him to buy Democratic votes recanted Wednesday, instead saying a McDaniel campaign spokesman paid him to lie during an interview. The campaign spokesman has denied the allegation.

McDaniel’s request to the Mississippi Republican Party was to declare him the winner on the basis of the alleged voting irregularities.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said Thursday since McDaniel had asked the party to declare him the winner rather than ask for a new election, the state and local circuit clerks shouldn’t be a party to any legal action the campaign files.

The campaign has twice filed cases challenging how much access the state allowed to poll book information.

“This matter has already been taken to the State Supreme Court twice, and we won both times,” Hosemann said.

“That was a cost of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees with 11 different sets of lawyers representing the different circuit clerks, and we don’t need to do that again.”

Whichever candidate ultimately prevails will still face Democrat Travis Childers and Reform Party candidate Shawn O’Hara Nov. 4.