The race between Tea Party-backed state Senator Chris McDaniel and six-term incumbent Senator Thad Cochran will soon be decided in state court. McDaniel's legal team filed a lawsuit against Cochran in Jones County, yesterday, and is asking a judge to throw-out nearly 25,000 votes from several counties and declare him the winner of the June 24th Republican Senate Runoff. But what's next in the process?
It's been more than seven weeks since Senator Thad Cochran was declared the winner of the June, GOP runoff, and with only a month until printing begins on the November general election's ballots, Former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Ed Pittman believes court officials need to be quick in selecting a special judge to oversee the lawsuit between Cochran and McDaniel.
"The Chief Justice will then appoint a senior status judge to hear the case." says Pittman. "Which means that even though they are retired, the chief justice could assign cases to them. You want a resolution at the earliest date so that you know who your candidates are, and you can print the ballots, and the remaining candidates can conduct a campaign. So the courts going to be quick on it in my opinion."
McDaniel is alleging that fraud, voting irregularities, insecure recordsandwrongly accepted absentee ballotstainted the June 24th runoff, and he wants a judge to overturn the results or a least call for a new election. In a press conference held last week, McDaniel says campaign volunteers have gathered evidence that his lawyers believe will prove the GOP runoff was a sham.
"We saw the dirty tricks, we saw what they did here in Mississippi." says McDaniel. "They moved more than 40,000 Democrats into the Republican Primary, and in so doing mistakes were made. What we're going to show is a pattern of conduct on the part of a number of people that demonstrates a problem with this election."
Regardless of the Despite whatever evidence McDaniel's legal team brings forward, Mississippi College School of Law Professor Matt Steffey believes this case will probably end up in front of the state Supreme Court.
"There are so many legal questions that are in play that whatever the specially-appointed judge does -- if it rules for McDaniel or it rules against him -- this case will wind up in the Mississippi Supreme Court." says Steffey.
In a statement, Cochran campaign lawyer Mark Garriga said they look forward to holding the McDaniel campaign to the burden of proof that the law requires and defending the votes of the majority of Mississippians who elected Senator Cochran as the Republican nominee."