Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Monday he will formally challenge the results of the Republican Senate primary runoff.
Six weeks after the runoff and a month after the state GOP certified Sen. Thad Cochran as the nominee, the McDaniel campaign announced they were filing a challenge with the Mississippi Republican Party's State Executive Committee.
"They asked us to put up or shut up," McDaniel said at a press conference in front of his attorney's office, holding up a large binder. "Here we are. Here’s the evidence." McDaniel made a rare appearance at the event, which was streamed live by local media outlets. The loud cheers from the crowd sounded like it was made up of more supporters than reporters.
Mitch Tyner, an attorney for the campaign, said they do not want a new election, as he'd previously said. The campaign now wants the results invalidated and McDaniel declared the winner.
"We anticipate that after they review the challenge that they’ll see that Chris McDaniel clearly, clearly, won the Republican vote on the runoff," Tyner said, as thunder cracked in the background.
"We’re not asking for a new election," he added. "We’re just asking the Republican Party simply recognize the person that actually won the election."
Tyner said they found "approximately 3,500 that are cross-over votes," in which Democrats voted in the Republican runoff, "approximately 9,500 where there are questions" and about 2,275 improperly cast absentee ballots.
All told, he said, the Mississippi GOP should declare McDaniel the winner by 25,000 votes.
In response to the challenge, the Cochran campaign announced Monday it has retained law firm Butler Snow, which has several Mississippi offices.
"The filing of this challenge marks the point where this matter moves from an arena of press conferences and rhetoric into a setting where nothing matters but admissible evidence and the rule of law," Cochran campaign attorney Mark Garriga said in a statement. "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."
McDaniel said the challenge was not about the "anger" or "frustration" conservatives felt about the election results. Rather, it's about "the integrity of the elections process" and "the integrity of the Republican Party and its primary system," he said.
"This is an opportunity for our party to take the lead on honest, good and transparent government," McDaniel said to great applause.