July 21st, 2014 • iizthatiiz
On July 7th, the Mississippi GOP Executive Committee certified the results of the June 24th primary run-off, declaring Thad Cochran the winner. Senator McDaniel has not accepted this result, and has refused to concede the election.
McDaniel volunteers have been scouring ballot boxes and poll books across Mississippi’s 82 counties .. when they have been allowed access. Approximately two dozen county clerks still refuse to allow the McDaniel camp to examine the records. McDaniel representatives are expressing confidence that they have a case to make, believing they can cast overwhelming doubt on the 7,600 vote margin of victory that the Cochran campaign is claiming.
Who will hear the challenge McDaniel intends to make?
Senator McDaniel gets two swings at the plate. The first opportunity is to present the evidence before Mississippi’s GOP Executive Committee. They have the power to weigh the evidence McDaniel has gathered, and if sufficiently convinced, call for a third election to be held. If the majority of the committee is not swayed by the material McDaniel is able to present, the challenge will be rejected, and a fractured party will head toward November with Thad Cochran as their nominee.
The second opportunity afforded McDaniel is to present his evidence before a state court in the county of his choosing. A jury will examine all the materials and evidence gathered, and has the power to order a special election, once again placing Cochran and McDaniel before the voters for a third time. If however the jury rules against Senator McDaniel, his legal options (barring appeal) under Mississippi state law will have run their course.
If both of these opportunities fail the McDaniel campaign, that would seem to be the end of the line for Chris McDaniel’s senate prospect’s this November. Those calling for him to run as an Independent are overlooking the ballot requirements in Mississippi. The filing deadline passed back in March. There is no process that could place McDaniel’s name on the November ballot as an Independent, or under any other party’s banner at this late date. Simply stated, if neither of McDaniel’s two challenge opportunities prevail, there is no way under Mississippi law that his name can appear on the November ballot.
“We will write him in!”
Many conservatives across Mississippi are making such vows. Those making that promise fail to understand that under current law, Mississippi does not recognize write-in votes. There is no provision under Mississippi election code allowing voters to override the official nominee of the Republican party.
There is however one sole exception. Under 23-15-365 of Mississippi election code, write-in’s are permissible in the event of the death, resignation, withdrawal or removal of any candidate whose name shall have been printed on the official ballot.
23-15-365 – Write-in candidates
(1) There shall be left on each ballot one (1) blank space under the title of each office to be voted for, and in the event of the death, resignation, withdrawal or removal of any candidate whose name shall have been printed on the official ballot, the name of the candidate duly substituted in the place of such candidate may be written in such blank space by the voter.
The prospect of either Travis Childers [D] or Thad Cochran [R] falling to any of the circumstances that would allow a write-in candidate on either of those two ballot slots is not much to hang your hat on.
There is however another candidate who has qualified for the November ballot in Mississippi. His name is Shawn O’Hara and he represents the Reform Party of Mississippi. His place on the November ballot is cemented in stone. O’Hara, a long-time fixture in the firmament of Mississippi politics, could find himself to be the key to McDaniel’s re-entry into the general election.
If O’Hara, for whatever reason … officially withdrew from contention, then all write-in’s under the slot the Reform party holds on the Mississippi ballot would be legally recognized.
Obtaining a senatorial slot on any ballot is no easy accomplishment. What might persuade the holder of such a precious possession to yield his place on the ballot? For that answer we look toward the platform of the Reform party.
- Fiscal Responsibility: The Reform Party supports fiscal responsibility and accountability.
- Government and Ethics: The Reform Party supports legislation and rules across all branches of government that enforce the highest ethical standards and effective oversight.
- National Security: The Reform Party supports policies and programs that best guarantee the security of our national borders, the safety of our citizens and the economic interests of our country.
- Tax Policy: The Reform Party supports fair taxation policies without prejudice or special interest exceptions.
- Constitutional Rights: The Reform Party supports the Principles established in the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence as our guiding principles for the rights of our citizens and for defining the scope of our Government.
Is that platform starting to sound a bit familiar?
While there may be differences to be found within the planks of the Reform Party and that of Senator McDaniel, there is an awful lot of common ground. The Reform Party and Shawn O’Hara could find themselves quite comfortable with a candidate such as Chris McDaniel.
Republican leadership talks endlessly about expanding the party. Chris McDaniel did just that. He expanded the Republican parties appeal to many Mississippi voters. He announced his candidacy early, back in October of 2013. He laid out a bold vision based on principles, ethics and the constitution. A lot of Libertarians in Mississippi liked what they saw. In fact, they chose not to field a candidate for 2014, and lined up behind Chris McDaniel. Congressman Ron Paul endorsed McDaniel prior to the primary, and the Libertarian Party of Mississippi issued a strong statement questioning the integrity of the June 24th run-off, asking “Are we to stand idly by while potential fraud and corruption may have denied our fellow citizens of their civil rights?”
Many Reform party proponents likely hold a sentiment similar to that of Mississippi’s Libertarians, and could be supportive if O’Hara chose to step aside and offer his ballot slot to Senator McDaniel.
A recent Chism Strategies poll demonstrates that Mississippi Republicans have been torn asunder by the questionable results of the June 24 run-off. The divide has only intensified as continuing revelations of unethical Cochran/Barbour campaign tactics are exposed.
With the situation on the ground continuing to deteriorate, Shawn O’Hara may be the one man able to prevent Mississippi from burning. If O’Hara is a man of his parties planks, he may decide to step aside and offer Mississippi voters a way to put out the fire.