Challenge Dismissed, Judge Says McDaniel Waited Too Long

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A Mississippi judge has dismissed a lawsuit that seeks to overturn Sen. Thad Cochran’s victory in a Republican primary runoff.

Judge Hollis McGehee said Friday that state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who lost to Cochran, failed to start the election challenge on time.

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McDaniel is expected to appeal McGehee’s ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

McGehee issued his ruling Friday in Gulfport, a day after hearing arguments in Laurel about the timing of McDaniel’s lawsuit. The judge agreed with Cochran attorneys. They cited a 1959 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that said an election challenge must begin within 20 days of the election. McDaniel waited 41 days.

McDaniel’s lawsuit claims irregularities spoiled the June 24 runoff. It asks the judge to declare McDaniel the winner or order a new runoff.

McDaniel argued that the 20 day deadline was no longer the law. After McGehee’s ruling, McDaniel’s attorneys indicated that he most likely will take the weekend to decide whether to appeal the McGehee ruling to the Supreme Court.

McDaniel was defeated by six-term incumbent Cochran in the June 24 runoff by 7,667 votes out of the 392,197 cast statewide.

McDaniel claims that his campaign has found about 15,000 questionable ballots statewide. Cochran has disputed those claims, saying any irregularities were miniscule.