Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel talks with members of the media after casting his ballot at the George Harrison Building on June 24, 2014 in Ellisville, Miss.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty

Mississippi Supreme Court deals blow to Chris McDaniel campaign

Tea partier Chris McDaniel’s long-shot bid to challenge the results of his Mississippi runoff against incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran was dealt a potentially fatal blow by the Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday.

In a 4-2 vote, the court upheld an earlier decision to dismiss McDaniel’s challenge to the June 24 runoff, in which Cochran prevailed by roughly 7,500 votes after a bitterly fought campaign, which brought allegations of race-baiting and ugly accusations about the personal lives of the candidates.

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McDaniel’s challenge was tossed out primarily because the state court found that he hadn’t filed it in a timely manner.

Ever since his June defeat, McDaniel has staunchly refused to concede to Cochran, despite pressure from many of his far-right supporters, like pundit Ann Coulter.

“McDaniel’s passionate supporters think that a moment of crisis for the country is a good time to treat control of the Senate as if it’s a prom queen election,” Coulter wrote in a July op-ed for the Clarion-Ledger. “Hoping for yet a third primary vote, McDaniel’s crew is going to prevent him from having any political career, ever again.”

The Mississippi state GOP also rebuked McDaniel’s request for a review of the results. “Our 52-member volunteer Republican State Executive Committee has been asked to spend just five hours listening to legal arguments and then overturn a United States Senate primary in which over 360,000 Mississippians cast votes,” Joe Nosef, current chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, said in a previous statement sent to msnbc. “It is neither prudent nor possible in a single day for any political committee to process and review the significant amount of complex evidence necessary to make such a decision, and attempting to do so would be prejudicial to both candidates.”

Cochran undoubtedly was aided by black Democratic voters who crossed over to vote Republican in the open primary in order to defeat the more conservative candidate. McDaniel’s campaign has alleged that Cochran illegally obtained votes and claimed to have found a few hundred examples of improper votes.

“We found a lot,” said Mitch Tyner, an attorney representing McDaniel, said in July – including false affidavit ballots and invalid absentee ballots. “We are committed to finding it and rooting it out and stopping it.”

This race drew national headlines as a stand-off between the insurgent tea party and the establishment of the GOP. 

The Cochran campaign’s attorneys, Butler Snow Law Firm, released a statement expressing their feelings of vindication in the wake of the court’s decision: “Today’s ruling by Mississippi’s highest court brings an end to the challenge of the primary runoff election and reconfirms the voters’ choice of Thad Cochran as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. As we have said from the beginning, regardless of the timeliness of the challenge, the facts continue to show this has always been a baseless challenge, and the will of the voters has now been validated by the Mississippi Supreme Court.”