Chris McDaniel examining Mississippi Senate election "irregularities"

Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, who lost a runoff election to Sen. Thad Cochran in the Republican primary Tuesday night, is not yet giving up his hopes of becoming the Republican Senate nominee.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, McDaniel said his team will be examining "irregularities" in the voting data to determine whether to challenge the results.

"If our party and our conservative movement are to co-exist, it is paramount that we ensure the sanctity of the election process is upheld. And we will do that. In the case of yesterday's election, we must be absolutely certain that our Republican primary was won by Republican voters," he said.

The call for "sanctity" in the results and a reference to the need for Republican voters to have determined the primary results a reaction to a late effort by Cochran court non-Republican voters, including black and union Democrats.

Candidates may challenge election results in court in Mississippi, but the state has no formal procedure in place for a recount.

Mississippi law allowed anyone who did not cast a Democratic ballot on June 3 to cast a Republican runoff ballot, the Associated Press reports. McDaniel and his supporters previously cited a defunct Mississippi law - effectively invalidated by the courts - that requires primary voters to support a party's nominee in November. That would bar Democrats from supporting Cochran, the McDaniel camp argued. Mississippi elections officials confirmed before polls opened that the law is functionally unenforceable, according to the AP.

Cochran was declared the victor by a margin of 51 to 49 percent, or about 6,700 votes, after a grueling and expensive race.

"The conservative movement is alive in Mississippi," McDaniel said."The Republicans who voted last night made it clear they're looking for conservative change in Mississippi. But the results also tell another story. They tell the story of some members of our party who are willing to engage in tactics unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan."

Some of his backers from conservative groups would tend to agree.

"What I would like to say is he stole it fair and square," said Adam Brandon, the executive vice president of FreedomWorks told CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes. "In Mississippi the Republican primary is open for Democratic voters. And he turned them out in droves because he knew he could not turn out Republicans and conservatives to win his primary."

"I think if you're a Republican and your future strategy is getting Democrats to vote for you to pull through a Republican primary, I think they're pretty much lost," he added. "If we see a pattern of irregularities those will need to be investigated."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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