If you are going to hire someone back up your false claims, there is probably no one better than a pastor — particularly if you live in the Bible Belt of the Deep South.
That is exactly what Tea Party candidate and sore loser Chris McDaniel did before filing a challenge to the primary run-off he lost to incumbent Thad Cochran for the GOP Senate nomination from Mississippi.
In the run-off, Cochran won with 194,932 votes to McDaniel’s 187,265 on June 24. Many of those votes came from black Democrats who see Cochran as the lesser of two evils.
McDaniel immediately began to assert that the election was rigged by the Cochran campaign, claiming that many of the Cochran votes came from black Democrats who were not qualified to vote in the GOP primary.
Included in the “evidence” presented by the McDaniel campaign was a recording of an interview by an online news outlet with Stevie Fielder. The Meridian resident is a self-proclaimed pastor who told the interviewer that he had been paid by the Cochran campaign to buy votes for Cochran.
When Fielder was questioned by state Attorney General Jim Hood’s office about the allegations, he recanted his story saying that someone from McDaniel’s campaign had paid him $2,000 to lie about the vote-buying scheme.
In addition to the allegations about the vote-buying, the Clarion Ledger reported that a Republican poll worker claimed to have heard people leaving the polling place discussing how they were going to spend the vouchers they had been given for voting.
McDaniel’s challenge seems to have no legs whatsoever. Mississippi has an open primary law, so his claim that Democrats may have “illegally” voted makes no sense. Although the law does say that people should vote for the primary candidate they plan on supporting in the general election, it is generally accepted that the law is unenforceable.
Another problem with McDaniel’s challenge is that even if the Democratic votes in question were deemed to be invalid, there are too few to make a difference in the outcome.
McDaniels’ challenge won’t stand, but neither will Fielder be charged with a crime.
In an interview at the Neshoba County fair on Wednesday, Attorney General Hood said that — as far as he has been able to determine — there was nothing illegal in Fielder accepting the $2,000 to lie about buying votes for Cochran. Here’s the video.
h/t: Think Progress