Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel — who is contemplating a formal challenge of his loss in the GOP run-off for the U.S. Senate this week — declared Wednesday that “many conservatives don’t feel welcome in the Republican party” anymore.
Incumbent Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran squeaked out a win over McDaniel in Tuesday’s GOP Senate run-off. But many of McDaniel’s conservative supporters are furious that Cochran appeared to have won because his campaign convinced Democrats to cross party lines to vote.
“The conservative movement is alive in Mississippi,” McDaniel, who has not conceded the race yet to Cochran, said in a Wednesday night statement. “The Republicans who voted last night made it clear they’re looking for conservative change in Mississippi.”
“But the results also tell another story,” McDaniel continued. “They tell the story of some members of our party who are willing to engage in tactics unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan. It’s no wonder so many conservatives don’t feel welcome in the Republican party.”
Tuesday’s closely-watched run-off came after McDaniel edged Cochran in votes in the initial election earlier this month. Because no candidate exceeded 50 percent, voters headed to the polls again on Tuesday.
There are allegations that Cochran supporters played the race card to encourage African-Americans, many of whom usually vote in Democratic primaries, to vote against McDaniel.
McDaniel said his team is exploring its options for a challenge, explaining “it is paramount that we ensure the sanctity of the election process is upheld.”
“We must be absolutely certain that our Republican primary was won by Republican voters,” McDaniel said.
“In the coming days, our team will look into the irregularities to determine whether a challenge is warranted,” McDaniel said. “After we’ve examined the data, we will make a decision about whether and how to proceed.”