Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called for a thorough investigation into allegations of voter fraud in the heated Republican Senate primary runoff election between U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and his intraparty challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
In an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin, Cruz criticized the Cochran campaign and his allies for their "conduct" in last month's runoff election, which he called "appalling."
"What happened in Mississippi was appalling," said Cruz, the vice chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Primaries are always rough and tumble. But the conduct of the Washington, D.C., machine in the Mississippi runoff was incredibly disappointing."
After losing a plurality of votes in the initial Republican primary, Cochran defeated the Tea Party-aligned McDaniel by about 7,600 votes, according to official certified results finalized late Monday night. Cochran employed an unusual strategy on the path to victory, courting the votes of many traditional Democrats, including African-Americans.
McDaniel's campaign has claimed to find thousands of voting "irregularities," and it is preparing a legal challenge it hopes will eventually lead to a new election. Cochran's campaign on Monday night released a detailed list of votes in question in each county, and the total did not come close to the McDaniel campaign's claims — though the examination is still ongoing.
Cruz said in the interview it was clear McDaniel had won a "sizable majority" of votes from Mississippi Republican voters, and he accused Cochran's allies of "racially charged" ads and conduct that tipped the balance in Cochran's favor. He said the McDaniel campaign's claims of voter fraud should be "vigorously investigated."
"But even more troubling, in the past week or so, we've seen serious allegations of voter fraud, and I very much hope that no Republican was involved in voter fraud," Cruz said. "But these allegations need to be vigorously investigated, and anyone involved in criminal conduct should be prosecuted. The voters of Mississippi deserve to know the truth."
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