TIME 2014 Election

Tea Party Activists Eye Mississippi Write-in Campaign After Shocking Loss

McDaniel
Chris McDaniel addresses his supporters after falling behind in a heated GOP primary runoff election against incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran on Tuesday June 24, 2014 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, Miss. George Clark—AP

Chris McDaniel was defiant in defeat, but hasn't signaled he'll mount a long-shot write-in bid

Tea Party activists in Mississippi and beyond urged state Sen. Chris McDaniel to mount a write-in campaign against Republican Sen. Thad Cochran on Wednesday, following McDaniel’s stunning defeat in a primary runoff vote Tuesday.

“When the Republican Establishment acts like Democrats, what is the point of supporting them?” Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips wrote in an email to supporters Wednesday morning. “Every McDaniel supporter in Mississippi from DeSoto County in the North to Biloxi in the South should stand up today and tell Chris McDaniel that if he runs as a write-in candidate in November, they will support him.”

McDaniel lost in a runoff to the six-term incumbent Cochran by only about 6,000 votes, amounting to less than 2% of the total count. Many of those who pushed Cochran over the top were either Republicans who’d been unmoved to vote in the initial June 3 primary (in which McDaniel narrowly won but failed to secure the 50% needed to prevent a runoff), or Democrats who were inspired to vote for Cochran to prevent a Tea Party victory for McDaniel.

Turnout in Tuesday’s runoff was higher than in Round One, with about 55,000 more ballots cast, many of them by Democrats for Cochran. McDaniel supporters felt robbed; as their candidate took the stage at his election night watch party, the crowd chanted “Write Chris in!”

“There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” McDaniel said, clearly incensed. “Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.”

Aside from those comments, McDaniel has offered no indication that he intends to mount a write-in candidacy.

Just hours after the race was called for Cochran, a Facebook page entitled “Write-in campaign for Chris Mcdaniel” appeared online. Conservatives vented outrage on Twitter and echoed calls for a write-in campaign.

Any such effort would be a long shot, to say the least, for the McDaniel camp, but victory in the upcoming general election may not be the only goal they have in mind. The Cochran-McDaniel primary was more than a mere nominating contest, it was a proxy battle in the broader ideological war over the future of the GOP, and the conservative wing of the party is outraged. If a McDaniel write-in campaign gained enough steam, it could imperil Cochran’s otherwise easy path back to Washington, emboldening the state’s marginalized Democrats and making for an interesting three-way general election.

At least one man is thoroughly enjoying the family feud still underway in Mississippi and the prospect of a write-in McDaniel campaign.

“Clearly there was some sloppiness to say the least, and probably some failures to comply with the law,” Mississippi State Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole told Breitbart. “I listened to some of McDaniel’s speech, and in a race this close I’m sure there are irregularities that ought to be looked into.”

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