Tea party-backed Chris McDaniel refused to concede his bitter Mississippi GOP runoff defeat to Sen. Thad Cochran, blaming the loss on “liberal Democrats” for hijacking the desires of Republican primary voters in the bright red Magnolia State.
He bluntly accused Mr. Cochran of “reaching across the aisle” and “abandoning the conservative movement.”
“This is not the party of Reagan,” Mr. McDaniel said, adding that he will not surrender.
“Now it’s our job to make sure that the sanctity of the vote is upheld. Before this race ends, we have to make absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.”
Mr. Cochran’s win was viewed as a huge blow to the national tea party groups and their allies, who invested heavily in the race in hopes of scoring their first big win of the primary season over a Senate Republican incumbent.
The Associated Press called the race for Mr. Cochran more than three hours after the polls closed. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Cochran held a 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent edge over Mr. McDaniel.
Tea partyers hoped the McDaniel campaign would be energized by Dave Brat’s shocking victory earlier this month over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia Republican primary, a result that rattled the Washington establishment.
But it was not to be, as Mr. Cochran made a late pitch to black voters and Democrats that political analysts said provided him with the margin of victory.
Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said via Twitter that the Cochran “win is almost entirely attributable to a large turnout increase among black votes” that did not come out for the initial June 3 primary.
Bitterness over that tactic was likely to remain.
Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks for America, which spent more than $450,000 on pro-McDaniel efforts, called it disgraceful that “self-described GOP leaders” such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. John McCain, along with the National Republican Senatorial Committee would “champion a campaign platform of pork barrel spending and insider deal-making, while recruiting Democrats to show up at the polls.”