The campaign of Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel accused U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran on Wednesday of “race-baiting” to encourage blacks to vote against him last month.
Cochran squeaked out a win over McDaniel in the GOP Senate run-off in late June.
“The activities of the Cochran campaign are abhorrent,” McDaniel campaign attorney Mitch Tyner said in a press conference in Mississippi. “The Cochran campaign through their race baiting…took Mississippi back 50 years in race relations.”
There have been a number of allegations that Cochran allies played the race card to encourage African-Americans, many of whom usually vote in Democratic primaries, to vote against McDaniel in the run-off.
One reported anti-McDaniel robocall went: “The time has come to take a stand and say NO to the tea party. NO to their obstruction. NO to their disrespectful treatment of the first African-American president.”
Another reported anti-McDaniel flier claimed that the “tea party intends to prevent blacks from voting” and accused McDaniel of racist comments and a voting history at odds with black voters.
Asked about the allegation that the campaign encouraged such race-baiting, Cochran spokesman Jordan Russell told The Daily Caller that it “is particularly ludicrous coming from this guy,” linking to a BuzzFeed story about McDaniel titled, “Mississippi GOP Senate Candidate Wrote Race-Baiting Blog Posts.”
“Senator Cochran got tremendous support from the African American community in Mississippi in this election because of a 40 year relationship built on respect and fairness, no matter differences on particular issues,” Russell said. “If Chris McDaniel had spent more time courting African American votes rather than complaining about them participating, he might have done better on election day.”
The reason for the McDaniel campaign news conference on Wednesday was to update the media on a possible challenge to the results of the state’s U.S. Senate race.
McDaniel’s campaign says they have a possible election challenge based on how some Democrats who voted in the GOP run-off for Cochran were ineligible to cast a ballot.
Tyner said they have enough evidence of voter irregularities to make a formal challenge but said they are still deciding whether to move forward with it. The campaign has not made public the evidence they say they have.
Referencing the “race baiting” in the campaign, Mississippi State Sen. Michael Watson — a prominent McDaniel supporter — called it “gross” and “hurtful” and said it “spits in the face of the progress we’ve made.”
“We’ve got to address that,” he said.
Earlier this month, Ed Martin, the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, sent a letter to RNC chairman Reince Priebus requesting him to appoint a special committee of RNC members to “investigate this matter” and report back on its findings.
Martin wrote that an investigation is needed because “many of us are unsure of all of the facts and seek more.”
“Specifically, if one of our own members helped finance ads or robocalls that tarred tea partiers as a group as racists, I am sure that most RNC members would find that deeply offensive, indeed unacceptable,” Martin wrote.