Six weeks after the primary runoff election, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel is launching his formal legal challenge of the election results, saying the evidence is so conclusive that he will be calling for courts to recognize him as the true victor of the race rather than calling for a new election.
“Chris McDaniel clearly, clearly won the Republican vote in the runoff,” McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner said at a Monday press conference. “I say that very assuredly because that’s what the mathematics show. It’s not what I’m arguing. After the election, we did some post-election polling. We determined that of the Democrats that did cross over, 71 percent of them admitted they will not support the Republican in the general election. When you take those polling numbers and you go in and do the mathematical regressions, you can see that Chris McDaniel clearly won the runoff by 25,000 votes.”
“The short answer is we’re not asking for a new election,” Tyner continued. “We’re simply asking that the Republican Party recognize the person who won the runoff election.”
The campaign of incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), who was certified by the Mississippi Republican Party as having won the runoff by 7,667 votes on July 7, fired back, saying McDaniel had “made repeated and baseless allegations of fraud and misconduct” since the election.
“We look forward to holding the McDaniel campaign to the burden of proof that the law requires – and, we are dedicated to the defense of the votes of those Mississippians who voted on June 24 for Thad Cochran as their United States Senator, an election which has been as thoroughly reviewed and examined as any in modern Mississippi history,” said Mark Garriga, an attorney for Cochran.
The evidence, presented to the public in the form of affidavits that will be used in McDaniel’s forthcoming official challenge of election results, is hundreds of pages long and encompasses nearly every one of Mississippi’s 82 counties.
At the press conference, McDaniel announced he will be using such evidence to file a formal challenge of the runoff results with the state GOP executive committee. Ten days after he files the challenge with that body – which, given its extensive ties to the GOP establishment in the state, is expected to rule against the Tea Party-backed McDaniel or just simply ignore the challenge – McDaniel can take the challenge into state court.
“It’s been an interesting six weeks since the 24th. We’ve been very, very busy. We’ve covered the state as well as we could with hundreds of volunteers, but justice has no time table, and yet here we stand. They asked us to put up or shut up – well, here we are. Here we are with the evidence,” McDaniel said.
“We know that the conservative movement is passionate about this issue,” McDaniel said. “We know right now that the conservative movement is very angry about what’s occurred. We all witnessed what a segment of our party did leading up to the 24th. We saw despicable acts of race-baiting. We saw despicable allegations from those who are supposed to be leaders in our party. There is no place in the Republican Party for those that would race bait. There is no place in the Republican Party for racism of any kind, and that’s exactly what we saw on those evenings and mornings leading up to the 24th. That has to end. We watched it. We witnessed it. We saw the dirty money coming in from D.C., whether it was from Bloomberg or other Republican United States senators. We saw what they did here in Mississippi.”
McDaniel noted that the actions the GOP establishment took “moved more than 40,000 Democrats into the Republican primary, and in so doing mistakes were made.”
“Some of those weren’t even mistakes – some of it was very intentional,” McDaniel said. “What we’re going to show is a pattern of conduct on the part of a number of people that demonstrates a problem with this election. The evidence is clear.”
McDaniel said activists need to review the evidence dispassionately, looking at just the facts. “We feel that anger, and we feel that frustration, but that’s not what this challenge is about,” McDaniel said. “The reason I hire good lawyers is so I can walk away from it and ask their opinion objectively: What does the evidence show? We have to be dispassionate about the facts. But the facts – they’re on our side. The law is on our side. And these lawyers after several weeks of research will tell you just that.”
McDaniel’s team is specifically pressuring the Republican executive committee in the state to give the evidence a fair shake. “We look forward to our venue in front of the Republican executive committee – they’re colleagues of mine, some of which I’ve known for years,” McDaniel said. “This is an opportunity for our party to take the lead on honest, good and transparent government.”
Tyner, McDaniel’s attorney, said that McDaniel is not seeking a new election, that the evidence is so overwhelming that anyone reviewing it will come to the same conclusion: McDaniel won on June 24.
“Once the state executive committee has had an opportunity to go through the evidence that we have included in this challenge, then they will see that they have no choice but to recognize Chris McDaniel as the nominee of the Republican Party of the state of Mississippi for the United States Senate,” Tyner said, to a loud round of applause from the audience.
I can confirm that the attack ads in Mississippi run by “All Citizens for Mississippi” were funded by Senate Republicans, including Senators Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Rob Portman, Bob Corker, and Roy Blunt. It appears our Senate Republican leaders are willing to risk losing a Senate majority so long as they can get their own re-elected. Yes folks, it is true. I can confirm what we all suspected.
The advertisements attacked Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel and painted conservative Republicans and tea party activists as racists. According to documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission, All Citizens for Mississippi received funding from a Haley Barbour backed group called Mississippi Conservatives.
Mississippi Conservatives, in turn, was funded in part by Sally Bradshaw of the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project, former RNC Chairman and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the United States Chamber of Commerce, and the political action committees created for Senators Mitch McConnell ($50,000), John Cornyn ($50,000), Rob Portman ($25,000), Bob Corker ($25,000), and Roy Blunt ($5,000).
Interestingly, Sally Bradshaw and Henry Barbour (Haley Barbour’s nephew) worked on the autopsy of the 2012 GOP loss.
Tea Party-backed Chris McDaniel is continuing to show accelerating momentum in his race to unseat 76-year-old, 42-year incumbent (36 years in U.S. Senate, six in House), establishment-backed Thad Cochran in the heated Mississippi run-off.
According to a new poll conducted by WPA Opinion Research, Chris McDaniel has opened up a sizable 8% lead over Sen. Thad Cochran, 49% – 41%.
“It is clear Chris McDaniel is well-positioned to win on June 24,” says a polling memo from the firm about the poll conducted June 9-10 with a margin of error of 4.4%.
The poll shows only 10% of voters undecided in the race, a number that should bode well for McDaniel, as most voters should have already made up their mind on Cochran after 42 years in office.
The polling memo says that 43% of voters were “definitely” voting for McDaniel, while 38% feel the same way about Cochran.
McDaniel narrowly defeated Cochran, 49.5% – 49.0% (155,040 – 153,654), in the recent Mississippi Senate primary, however, neither received the necessary threshold of over 50% to avoid the runoff election.
Two other polls, both conducted on June 5, also show McDaniel leading over Cochran, albeit by smaller spreads. Chism Strategies, a national Democratic pollster based in Mississippi, had McDaniel leading 51 to 48 percent. Strategic National, a national GOP pollster, had McDaniel leading 52 to 46 percent.
The race is seen as another “David vs. Goliath” race, with a grassroots constitutional conservative, McDaniel, taking on the well-funded, big business-backed Cochran, with similarities to the Dave Brat victory over GOP House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor.
These recent numbers show McDaniel has clearly maintained the momentum in the race.
Tea Party favorite Ben Sasse won the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat in Nebraska Tuesday night, after a heated and costly primary battle that drew heavy national attention.
Sasse, a university president, was able to hold off former state treasurer Shane Osborn and dark horse candidate Sid Dinsdale, who had begun to surge in recent weeks. Sasse grabbed 49 percent of the vote with Dinsdale finishing second and Osborn finishing third, according to preliminary returns.
“We were never doing this because we need another job,” Sasse told supporters Tuesday night. “We were only going to do this if we were going to talk about big, bold conservative ideas.”
The win makes Sasse a huge favorite in November’s general election, where he’ll face Democrat Dave Domina, an Omaha attorney. The winner will replace Republican Mike Johanns, who didn’t seek a second term.
Sasse, the president of Midland University, had steadily gained the backing of some of the most influential conservative groups and figures. His victory is a huge win for the Tea Party, as the movement has struggled to gain traction this year in the primaries.
Osborn had the backing of allies of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and ran an aggressive campaign. Further scrambling the race, Pinnacle Bank President Dinsdale had sought to capitalize on the Sasse-Osborn fight and had climbed in the polls.
In recent weeks, big names gravitated to Sasse’s side, including Sarah Palin and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Sasse also has the backing of the Club for Growth, the Tea Party Patriots, the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks.
“Ben Sasse won this race because he never stopped fighting for conservative principles,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which spent more than $1.2 million to help Sasse.
Cruz said Sasse’s win “is a clear indication that the grassroots are rising up to make D.C. listen.”
Sasse focused on his conservative credentials, opposition to abortion, support for gun rights and goal of repealing and replacing the health care law.
In one 30-second ad, Sasse’s two young daughters, Alex and Corrie, talked about how much their dad opposed the Affordable Care Act. “He wants to destroy it,” said one daughter. “He despises it,” said the other.
However, Sasse advised former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt’s firm as the group reached out to businesses and organizations in 2010 to explain and implement the new law. Osborn recently began running a 30-second TV ad linking Sasse to writings and speeches from several years earlier commenting on elements that would become part of the law firmly opposed by most Republicans.
Outside groups and the candidates have spent millions on the race in which the GOP winner is widely expected to prevail in November. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party’s campaign operation, remained neutral.
The Tea Party movement has struggled in earlier contests, with their favored candidates losing to establishment favorites in Texas, North Carolina and Ohio.
Looking ahead to upcoming primaries, the Tea Party’s chances to upset incumbents have been diminishing in Kentucky, Kansas, Idaho and Mississippi.
In Nebraska’s GOP primary for governor, Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts narrowly defeated Attorney General Jon Bruning. Term limits prevented Republican Gov. Dave Heineman from running again.
Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman Alex Mooney won the Republican nomination for West Virginia’s 2nd district Tuesday night, delivering the Tea Party a win.
Mooney was taking 33 percent support to 20 percent support each for former U.S. International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane and pharmacist Ken Reed when the Associated Press called the race.
Democrats believe Mooney’s victory gives them the best shot at picking up the seat, open thanks to Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.) run for Senate.
Though she held the district for eight terms, it’s the least conservative of the state’s three districts and Democrats are enthusiastic about attorney Nick Casey, who easily won the party’s nomination Tuesday night.
Democrats believe the main attack Mooney’s opponents used against him in the primary – that he’s a political opportunist and carpetbagger, having moved to the district from Maryland to run after considering a run for former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s (R-Md.) seat last cycle – remains potent in the general.
And they see his conservative support, which helped him through the primary, as a liability in the general.
Lane was initially considered the frontrunner for the nomination, but a number of national conservative groups – including the Senate Conservatives Fund and Citizens United – backed Mooney and invested about $80,000 in ads boosting him in the final weeks of the race.
SCF executive director Matt Hoskins said the group spent $90,000 on the race and congratulated Mooney in a statement, pledging to help him win in November.
“Alex Mooney started out as the underdog, but won this race because he ran on conservative principles,” Hoskins said. “He will fight for common sense West Virginia values in Congress.”
Mooney had argued he was the true conservative in the race, touting his pro-gun, anti-abortion rights positions in his campaign ads.
The final advertising push from outside groups, along with Mooney’s more than 2-to-1 cash advantage over Lane, boosted his message in the final weeks and helped him overcome those carpetbagging attacks from his rivals.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee declared in a memo that their Democratic candidates are “poised to run winning races in every district in the state,” but West Virginia’s 2nd remains their best shot at a pickup this cycle.
In West Virginia’s 3rd district, they’ll be fighting hard to defend Rep. Nick Rahall, one of Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbents, who will face state Sen. Evan Jenkins in the general.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ian Prior declared Rahall’s primary would be the “last election he ever wins,” but Rahall did handily defeat his challenger, taking 65 percent of the vote with about two-thirds of the precincts reporting.
In West Virginia’s 1st district, Democrats are fronting state Auditor Glen Gainer, but he has a slim shot at taking down sophomore Rep. David McKinley (R).
Republican Scott Wagner pulled off a stunning victory in Tuesday’s special election and made history in the process by becoming the first person ever to win a state Senate seat as a write-in candidate.
Taking advantage of a low voter turnout and a well-financed campaign that got his name in front of voters along highways, at major intersections, on TV and in mailboxes, Wagner waltzed past his party-endorsed opponents – Republican Ron Miller and Democrat Linda Small – to clinch a victory.
He will serve as the state senator representing the 28th District through Nov. 30, allowing Republicans to maintain their 27 to 23 majority in the chamber. The seat is up for election for a four-year term later this year.
York County’s unofficial vote totals show Wagner capturing 48 percent of the vote. Democrat Linda Small received 26 percent and GOP-endorsed candidate Ron Miller got 27 percent.
Turnout for this special election was dismal. Only 14 percent of the 163,617 registered voters in the senatorial district showed up at the polls to cast a ballot in the special election to identify a successor for longtime senator Mike Waugh, who resigned in January to become executive director of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.
York County Director of Elections Nikki Suchanic ventured a guess that part of the reason for the low turnout was the change in the senatorial district boundaries that occurred since the last time that seat was up for election.
That left some people unaware they were eligible to vote, and others who turned out to vote but couldn’t because they no longer lived in the 28th District.
Regardless, the votes that were cast gave Wagner, 58, of Spring Garden Twp., a resounding victory in a race that got exceedingly nasty toward the end.
Ads that were run cast Wagner as a bully and his trash hauling company, York-based Penn Waste, an environmental violator. Wagner responded with his own negative attack ad against on Miller and in recent days, Small too.
The attacks against him angered Wagner. He was astonished that his business-friendly Republican Party would go after a job creator like himself.
Those ads were funded by the Senate Republicans, the ranks of whom Wagner will now join.
On Tuesday evening, Wagner shrugged off those barbs at his victory party in a room inside in an empty Santander Stadium. He said he plans to try to work with his Senate colleagues.
“You sit down at the table. You drink a cup of coffee or you have lunch in somebody’s office and you have to learn a little bit of their story, and they have to learn a little bit of my story,” Wagner said.
“But what I’m all about is more representative of what’s reality on the street,” he added. “I didn’t get where I am today by not sitting down” with people.
State GOP Chairman Rob Gleason issued a statement Tuesday evening congratulating Wagner on his victory and commending Miller for running a great race.
“Scott Wagner won a hard-fought race, and I am sure he will serve as a strong advocate for the people of the 28th District in the Senate,” Gleason said. As for Miller, he said, “I look forward to watching him continue to stand up for the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility in the state House.”
Wagner, who also owns a KBS Trucking in Thomasville, comes to the Senate planning to be a maverick by not accepting a taxpayer-funded pension or health insurance, limiting himself to two terms, limiting his contacts with special interests, and working to downsize state government.
He supports eliminating school property taxes and replacing that lost revenue by imposing sales tax on food and clothing. He supports job training for welfare recipients. He also supports legalizing medical marijuana.
Throughout his campaign, Wagner was critical of the Senate Republican leadership and state Republican Party for orchestrating the special election in such a way to hand the seat, vacated by Mike Waugh in January, to Miller, which GOP leaders denied.
Miller, 62, of Jacobus, called Wagner shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday to congratulate him on becoming his next senator.
At a gathering at York County GOP headquarters, Miller said he respected the will of the voters and planned on returning to Harrisburg on Wednesday to carry out his duties as the 93rd state House district representative for the remainder of this year. He is not seeking re-election to his House seat that he has held for 16 years.
Meanwhile, Small, 53, of New Freedom, won kudos from state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burns for running a spirited campaign that made her party proud. “The people of this commonwealth would have been well served with her leadership in Harrisburg,” Burns said.
Wagner said during a campaign stop last week that he plans to move right into campaign mode immediately after the special election to gear up for the May 20 primary when he will stand for election again against Miller and political newcomer Zachary Hearn, 37, of Windsor Twp., for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat. Small is unopposed in her bid for the Democratic nomination in the spring primary.