Defeated Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel had a simple request for the Mississippi GOP earlier this week: simply throw out the county (or counties, if you’re feeling adventurous) where Sen. Thad Cochran did really well and declare McDaniel the nominee. Do it. Should take five seconds. Is it done yet? Is it done??
Unfortunately, no. It’s not done. The Mississippi GOP told the McDaniel campaign yesterday, shortly after being supplied with the 200-some-page hilarious complaint, that it would not make a decision on it and urged McDaniel to take his case to the courts.
The Mississippi GOP chairman, Joe Nosef, tries gently to explain to McDaniel’s lawyer, Mitch Tyner, that it is being ridiculous without outright saying that it is being ridiculous. He writes that since “Mississippi Republican Party Bylaws require 7 days notice of any meeting of the State Executive Committee,” and Mississippi election code requires that “any petition for judicial review must be filed in court” by the party by August 14, “this would afford our committee, at most, one day to at a minimum:
1. consider and determine the proper procedural rules that should govern an unprecedented proceeding of this type;
2. hear and vote on legal arguments regarding the timeliness of this challenge, see Kellum v. Johnson, 115 So. 2d 147 (Miss. 1959) (which appears to impose a 20 day time limit from therunoff to file a challenge);
3. issue fiats to the various county executive committee chairmen across the state implicated by the challenge, have each committee investigate the complaint and return their findings to the chairman of the state committee;
4. hear testimony from the potentially dozens of witnesses who have been named in the challenge;
5. examine the wide variety of evidence cited in the challenge and presented by other interested parties; and
6. finally, engage in proper deliberation and render a decision on the challenge.
“In fact,” Nosef’s letter concludes, “given the extraordinary relief requested of overturning a United States Senate primary in which over 360,000 Mississippians cast votes, the only way to ensure the integrity of the election process and provide a prudent review of this matter is in a court of law.” Blah blah blah. Clearly this Nosef character is a dirty establishment RINO in the pockets of the Barbours. McDaniel’s team knew that this would be a time-constrained matter since the runoff was six weeks ago and even narrowed the complaint to make it easy for the party: a bunch of black people voted for Cochran and so Cochran won illegally. Boom. Throw it out and declare McDaniel the winner! WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT THIS? Enough with this namby-pamby business about “testimony” and “wide variety of evidence” and “proper deliberation” and other due-process jargon. Thad Cochran won with “illegal Democrat votes” (in a state with no party registration) and should be banned from America. Clear-cut.
Obviously it makes political sense for the Mississippi GOP chairman to look at this thing, declare “sorry, no time, take it to the courts!” and then scram. Had he picked up the complaint and issued a ruling, it would have further inflamed McDaniel Republicans by rejecting it — because rejecting such a laughable document was the only possible course of action. The state party doesn’t need its fingerprints on this hot mess.
If the McDaniel campaign does submit this to the courts for review, though, it will be interesting to see if/how it alters the language of the complaint. Because the language of the complaint was ridiculously partisan and clearly targeted for a body of state GOP executive committee members, not a court of law. References to “the Democrat party” and “illegal Democrat votes” abound, as do florid descriptions of events like “Cochran’s hustling Democrat voters into the Republican primary through race baiting scare tactics.” If McDaniel submits a complaint that more closely resembles a grown-up legal document, then it might mean he actually believes he has a valid court case to argue; if he submits the complaint as-is, then he’s just trying to goose up Tea Partyers to secure a nice career on the right-wing speaking circuit.