Pender: McDaniel Says Conservatives ‘Enraged’ and Will Be Engaged

McDaniel: Conservatives ‘enraged,’ will be engaged

Geoff Pender, Clarion Ledger, August 12, 2014

mcdanielphoto

Chris McDaniel says conservatives in Mississippi are “enraged” over the U.S. Senate primary and likely to take it out on incumbent Republican state officeholders in next year’s elections.

“Conservatives in this state are angry, and rightly so,” McDaniel said Tuesday, in his first one-on-one interview with The Clarion-Ledger since before his June 24 runoff loss to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.

“Those three weeks up to the runoff, they saw the despicable and improper things,” McDaniel said. “They are going to take that anger and try to turn it into something in 2015. Who knows where those energies will flow. I just know a lot of people are going to engage the system, and I think that’s a good thing for the system.”

McDaniel touched on numerous topics in the phone interview as he traveled to meet with his attorneys about a legal challenge to his runoff loss, which McDaniel said he will likely file Wednesday.

McDaniel says his legal team has told him he has a “rock-solid” case to overturn the primary, and he’s been letting that team do its work.

Lawyers working

“I have stepped back,” McDaniel said, and resisted a natural urge as a lawyer who’s practiced for 14 years to be involved in drafting the challenge. “One thing I never wanted to do was be my own lawyer. I don’t want to let passion or strong emotion cloud anything. I’ve just asked them only one question: Do we have a rock-solid, actionable case? They’ve told me yes. … I paid them to give me good, solid legal advice, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

McDaniel said he knows that, even with a solid case, overturning a statewide election is a massive challenge and would be unprecedented.

McDaniel said that as his lawyers worked, he’s been recharging his batteries, spending time with wife and two young sons, including a trip last week to Disney World. He said he’s also gone back to work at his law firm and taken continuing legal education courses he’s required to have as an attorney.

Hopes for reform

McDaniel said he’s not being a sore loser, that “the integrity of the primary system matters” and that when that integrity is usurped, people’s constitutional “freedom of association” is thwarted.

“This cannot happen again,” McDaniel said, and that he hopes his case brings election reform.

McDaniel said he knows people have voiced concern and frustration about his pending challenge hanging over the Senate election for seven weeks.

“I share their concern,” McDaniel said. “We would have much rather have this expedited. It took longer than we would have ever thought for the lawyers to gather evidence — they are still gathering evidence — with so many reports of wrongdoing. We have a limited number on our staff. I was hoping this thing would be wrapped up days ago.”

McDaniel said his meeting with lawyers Tuesday was to decide what county to file it in and wrap up loose ends — “first, venue, and second, to ask one more time, ‘Do we have enough effective evidence?'”

Will of the court

McDaniel has been asked repeatedly whether he would support Cochran as the Republican nominee if his challenge fails. He said Tuesday he still cannot answer that.

“I’m focused on the objective ahead, and I can’t get too far out ahead of that,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel acknowledged, “Once we exhaust our legal remedies, there would be little choice but to accept the will of the court at that point.”

McDaniel said he’d like to note for the record and to refute columns in The Clarion-Ledger and elsewhere that “we weren’t just trying to raise money” with his challenge and requests for donations for it.

He noted his campaign still had nearly $400,000 in the bank after the runoff. But he said “people have been very generous” in donating to fund the challenge.

Welcome scrutiny

McDaniel said he hasn’t paid close attention to recent allegations swirling around part of his challenge — claims by Stevie Fielder of Meridian that he helped the Cochran campaign buy votes.

Fielder has recanted some of the story he initially told California political blogger Charles C. Johnson, saying now that he was asked to buy votes but didn’t. And state Attorney General Jim Hood said his office determined Fielder was paid to lie by McDaniel campaign staffer Noel Fritsch.

McDaniel said, “I think Charles Johnson already made very clear, he was the one who (paid Fielder). … (Fritsch) denies anything to that effect.”

McDaniel said he welcomes an investigation into the matter.

“That’s a good thing,” McDaniel said. “I hope as they begin to subpoena documents between Rev. Fielder and others, they’ll get to the bottom of this. I’m glad we’re seeing the wheels of justice move and subpoenas are out there.”

While McDaniel said he was going to grill his lawyers one more time Tuesday on the case they’ve gathered, he said he’s pretty confident it’s a strong one, even with a steep legal hill to climb.

“The law is the law, and we think the law is on our side,” McDaniel said. “Facts are the facts, and when you look at the aggregate numbers of votes in question, when you add up the large numbers of Democrats, the numbers get very high at that point.”

The state senator from Ellisville briefly reflected on his long-fought first run at higher office and a statewide election Tuesday.

“This has been an incredible experience.”

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Comments

  1. The “establishment” just doesn’t yet get how very, very angry we are but they will November 5th…. the day after the election. Everyone knows where the blames lies and it is with Barbour(s).

  2. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give in to Cochran!!! There should be NO “Group hug”!!!! Even IF McDaniels fails in his attempt, I personally will NOT vote for Cochran; he does NOT deserve to be rewarded with MY VOTE for his unethical behavior….so that means if Cochran is the only GOP nominee (and since write-in votes won’t count), I’m voting for Childers!!!! A vote for Childers is better than a “no vote” since at least a worthwhile candidate will receive my approval!

  3. They may be angry but not angry enough to get the hell out of the GOP. They have sucked the teat longer enough. Let them form their own party if they have enough intelligence.

  4. Ahhh, but Horace, the Republican Party is the home of the tea supporters. Read the speeches of Ronald Reagan, and the Republican Creed. Read the party platform, especially the 2012 version (about which Romney was careful to say quote “nobody reads it” as a way of keeping himself from needing to follow it).

    You won’t find anything in there about porkbarrel spending being a good thing. You won’t find anything in there about dividing people up into races and classes and such, as a means of conquering them. What you will find is a bunch of stuff straight from the tea-priorities-list, about cutting spending, about inverting the federal debt, and so on.

    Intelligent folks that support tea, realize that third-party-stuff like the Libertarians are a dead end. Duverger’s law of elections guarantees that, in any system of voting organized like ours is, there will always be exactly two dominant parties. In fact, prior to FDR, there *were* two parties, because the repubs advocated different policies than the dems. Since then, re-aligning elections and broad swings of the centrists from one side to the other, have given us a twin-party-system: the biggest difference between Romney and Obama, was Big Bird, which is totally nuts.

    No, sorry, intelligent tea folks have one party only, the party of Reagan and Goldwater and Taft The Younger (not to mention Paul and Cruz and Lee and Scott). Furthermore, we have one country only, the country of Lincoln and Madison and Washington and Adams and Jefferson and Franklin and Paine. We aren’t planning on leaving the country, and the math guarantees that we must have the courage to stick firm, and reform the repub party from within, rooting out corruption along the way. You are welcome to stick around, as long as you agree that corruption is bad, and that cutting the size of govt is good.

    We are intent on taking back the repub party, and making it the party of liberty-n-justice for all, not pork-n-corruption for some. We are also intent on taking back the country from the progressives, whether they be estab-dems or estab-repubs. There is nothing crazy about balancing the budget; plenty of people who vote dem know that, and the majority of people who vote repub also know it. Folks are finally starting to wake up: participate in primaries, become delegates to conventions, and pay attention to the internet (not the teevee).

    All the nasty tricks of the 2014 race are merely evidence that the estab-repubs (being cheered on by Hillary not-so-coincidentally) are starting to panic. Nothing in the world can stop an idea whose time has come; the most that can happen is a brief delay.

    p.s. Although I disagree with Paul Sykes, it is hard to fault his reasoning. Why would you vote for somebody, who silently stands by and lets his team tar the tea party wing of the repub party as racists, just like a dem would? Personally, I hope that Cochran is just being kept in the dark about the whole business, or at least, the nastiest portions of the business, and when the election-challenge brings forth the proof, that Cochran will first apologize and then vow to set things right.

    Failing that, though, it would be very hard to get enthusiastic about a rally-around-the-nominee group hug, as Paul puts it. Romney failed to mend bridges too, back in 2012, which so dampened turnout that Mitt only got 61m votes… even McCain got 60m, and Mitt had 3% population-growth PLUS four years of Obama’s record to run against, and did proportionally WORSE than McCain. Sigh.

  5. To Horace: Is that you Henry? You surely sound like Henry.
    Tsk, tsk, tsk.

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