By M. Scott Morris
TUPELO – State Sen. Chris McDaniel and some 65 supporters shared a sense of outrage during Friday’s meeting at the Summit.
It was part of McDaniel’s “Truth and Justice Tour” that began in Olive Branch on Thursday and continues into next week.
“The conservative movement in this state feels betrayed,” McDaniel said.
He received more votes than U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the June 3 election, but not enough to avoid a runoff. Cochran won that June 24 runoff, helped in part by appealing to traditionally Democratic voters.
McDaniel said Friday his campaign recruited 30,000 more Republican votes between the primary and the runoff.
“My opponent added 40,000 Democrats to his total, a Republican record,” McDaniel said.
He said Cochran’s campaign hired democratic operatives and used race-baiting phone messages to get black votes.
“By extension, they said all of you were racists, which is not true,” he told the crowd, many of whom had blue McDaniel signs. “It is not race we see; it is principles we see.”
Jordan Russell, Cochran’s spokesman, told The Associated Press outreach to African-Americans was based on relationships the senator developed over four decades of service.
“If Chris McDaniel had asked African-Americans to vote for him rather than complaining about them participating in the process, he might have won the election,” Russell said.
McDaniel said his campaign’s investigation into the election has resulted in “more than 10,000 irregularities,” and his team still hasn’t been granted access to the voting records of 22 counties.
He said he’s committed to carrying on his investigation and considering filing a legal challenge, no matter what Mississippi Republican Party leaders would prefer.
“Let me tell them something: Justice has no time table,” he said, and several in the audience responded with “Amen.”
Santo Arico, 76, drove from Oxford to attend the gathering. He’s campaigned for other Republicans in the past, but he’s not sure how he will vote in November.
“With what the party leaders did with this election, they crushed the will of hard-working conservatives in the state,” Arico said.
Starkville resident Mary Cole, 72, said she fears for the country’s direction and believes McDaniel is the man to help turn things around.
“I’ve been a Republican all my life, but today, because of what happened, I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Libertarian and I’m not a Republican,” Cole said.
McDaniel spent nearly an hour and half at the Summit, and much of that was for questions and answers. He’ll be in Jackson today, followed by stops in D’Iberville on Monday and Hattiesburg on Tuesday.
“Conservatives, we are just getting started,” McDaniel said. “This will not be my last trip to Tupelo.”