A lot of us spent a good part of yesterday wondering what the basis might be of some Chris McDaniel challenge to the results in Mississippi on Tuesday night. Would Team McDaniel stick to investigating clear and provable violations of state law (e.g., Democratic primary voters being allowed to participate in the GOP runoff), or essentially try to criminalize “crossover” voting?

The answer is “both,” it appears, per comments McDaniel made last night on Mark Levin’s radio show:

We haven’t conceded and we’re not going to concede right now. We’re going to investigate.

Naturally sometimes it’s difficult to contest an election, obviously, but we do know that 35,000 Democrats crossed over. And we know many of those Democrats did vote in the Democratic primary just three weeks ago which makes it illegal.

We likewise know that we have a statute, a law in our state that says you cannot participate in a primary unless you intend to support that candidate. And we know good and well that these 35,000 democrats have no intention to do that. They’ll be voting for Travis Childers in November. We know that. They know that. And so that makes their actions illegal.

So we’re going to be fighting this.

Aside from the fact that this “intent to support” statute McDaniel cites is blatantly unenforceable and unconstitutional, I hope he understands that any inquiry into “crossover” voting in a state like Mississippi is going to be strictly about race. How do we know these are “crossover” voters, since there’s no party registration? Because they are African-Americans! Can’t have African-Americans voting in our White Man’s Primary, can we?

You see where this all goes. Whether or not a legal challenge based on this sort of rationale goes anywhere, it will do more long-range damage to the Republican “brand” than a dozen “autopsy reports” can ever fix.

Now it’s entirely possible, of course, that McDaniel is just venting for the sake of the troops, or is cynically creating leverage for himself in some future campaign or bid for an appointive office. If so, he ought to cash in his chips before he turns the GOP into a debating society over the propriety of accepting minority votes.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.