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McDaniel to Decide If He Wants to Continue Election Challenge

By Paul Boger | Published 02 Sep 2014 08:30am | comments

Tomorrow is the day that state Senator Chris McDaniel is expected to announce whether he will appeal a judge’s decision to dismiss his lawsuit challenging the results of the June Republican Senatorial runoff. McDaniel will have to ask the Mississippi Supreme Court to hear his appeal if he wishes to continue fighting the election’s results.

State Senator Chris McDaniel may soon have no choice but to accept defeat in the June G-O-P runoff against incumbent Senator Thad Cochran. During a motion ruling Friday, in Gulfport, Special Judge Hollis McGehee made his decision to dismiss McDaniel’s lawsuit that claims voter fraud and other irregularities decided the election. McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner says the dismissal took them by surprise.

“He wasn’t really ready to accept that that was even a possibility,” says Tyner. “He wanted to let you know that he wants to take the weekend and determine whether or not he wants to appeal the decision. This is a very costly litigation and so he’s going to take the weekend and decide whether or not he wants to appeal the decision.”

If McDaniel does decide to challenge the dismissal, he’ll have to take an emergency appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Special Judge Hollis McGehee says it’s his opinion that Mississippi election laws clearly state that any election challenge must come within 20 days of an election. An opinion he believes the high court will uphold.

“It’s not a question of whether I think that’s good law or whether I think it should be that way or not be that way,” McGehee says. “The question is what is the law? When you don’t meet that requirement then you’re not entitled to come in door of the courthouse, so to speak, whit a lawsuit. The court is without authority to go any further then that.”

McGehee’s decision, while met with surprise from the McDaniel team, was quickly accepted by the Cochran camp. Speaking on behalf of the campaign, attorney Mark Garriga says they hope this will be the end of the challenges.

“This has been an ordeal for Senator Cochran, for his staff, for circuit clerks, for all the people whose votes have been challenged,” says Garriga. “We hope that this is the end. Not the beginning of the end, but the end.”

If McDaniel does appeal to the Supreme Court, they could agree with McGehee and end the challenge process, or they could overrule his decision and send the case back to the lower court for trial.

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