NORTHEAST Miss. (WCBI)- “There is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” said Sen. Chris McDaniel.
It’s the open primary system. Mississippi law allows voters to cast their ballots in whichever party primary they choose. While they cannot swap parties if the race leaders to a runoff, the law does allow those who didn’t vote in the primary to cast a ballot in the runoff. MUW professor Brian Anderson says this option allows candidates to court voters, who typically sit on the opposite side of the aisle.
“The tea party’s certainly not happy about what they saw as deliberate effort. There’s plenty of evidence to show that the effort was there by the Cochran team to court democrats to jump across party lines and vote in the Republican Primary runoff. They see this as a low tactic. The other side of the legal argument is elections are for the public and so why should we rule out people voting for one candidate or another just because the ballot may have republican or democrat at the top of it because in the end, those folks might be the ones who actually represent you. And so why shouldn’t they be able to jump over and influence the selection of nominees for the other party,” said Anderson.
Republican Keith Heard hopes the party can heal.
“What I do see is a tone and tactic divide. Some believe that you should go to Washington and be loud and shout from the mountain top and never compromise. Others believe that when you’re in a divided government, that you have to get the best you can,” said Heard.
But the race to keep the U.S. Senate seat is far from over for Cochran. Democratic nominee Travis Childers says the bizarre runoff and its results are rare. Momentum may be in Cochran’s favor for now, but Childers says he is ready for the challenge.
” I think that was an isolated situation. I think that the democrats will proudly get behind me and support me in November. I have enjoyed having some independent and republican voters before, I will be seeking that again. My base as a democrat is not nearly as divided as theirs,” said Childers.
The election has to be certified in 8 days. The McDaniel campaign has not said when or if they will file a challenge. Right now the Cochran campaign hasn’t made a comment about McDaniel’s accusations.