After six weeks of imprecations and threats, former GOP Senate candidate Chris McDaniel has formally made public his “findings” about the June 24 runoff, and is demanding not a new election but the nomination itself. And since he’s clearly fallen short of the original goal of finding enough votes illegally cast by people who had earlier voted in the Democratic Primary to call the results into question (only claiming 3,500 such votes, while Cochran won by about 7,500), his campaign has shifted to a different argument. It’s that national GOP rules prohibit recognition of nominations in cases where Democrats are allowed to vote in Republican primaries.

If you actually read the RNC rule 11b in question, it seemed to be aimed at forcing a change in systems like Alabama’s, which allowed people to vote in one party’s primary and the other’s runoff, and/or to prevent formal party nominations in non-partisan “top two” primary systems like California’s and Washington’s. It does not ban solicitation of Democratic votes or impose some sort of loyalty oath.

What McDaniel seems determined to do is to force a very public discussion of the tactics Cochran’s campaign used in appealing to Democratic voters. And as WaPo’s Philip Bump notes, it’s going to get racial awfully fast:

[T]he argument goes like this. Democrats voted in the runoff, which, even if it’s legal under Mississippi law, is a violation of the party’s nominating rules. Given the number of additional votes Cochran received in the runoff — more than a similar increase seen by McDaniel — the campaign clearly plans to argue that many of those votes were from Democrats and should be considered invalid. The McDaniel argument will almost certainly focus on the racial make-up of counties that saw an increase in turnout from the primary to the runoff to bolster its argument, which we can predict both because an early draft of its Rule 11(b) press release was explicit about the racial component, and because, last week, this reporter was contacted by Tyner to see if he might serve as an expert witness on the topic. (I declined.)

It would seem that Team McDaniel is trying to embarrass Cochran and the Republican Party as much as to deny him the nomination. If he persists in this course, there will be plenty of embarrassment–and in McDaniel’s case, shame–to go around. A protracted discussion of the circumstances under which African-Americans are allowed to participate in Republican primaries is not going to go well for the GOP.

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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.