Chris McDaniel will finally get his day in court, but it may already be too late.
The Mississippi state senator, who lost a Republican primary runoff to Sen. Thad Cochran in late June, will get a hearing on his legal challenge on Sept. 16 — just four days before absentee voting begins in the general election.
With arguments scheduled to run through Oct. 6, that suggests McDaniel’s chances of winning a decision that resulted in a new runoff campaign — or even being named the GOP nominee in place of Cochran — are slim.
Still, the McDaniel campaign doesn’t appear concerned, at least publicly.
“Chris is very pleased that voters will finally have the chance to see the widespread negligence the Mississippi Republican Party allowed during the June 24 primary runoff, and we're confident that once all the evidence is presented at trial there will be no option but to hold another primary runoff election,” McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch told the Washington Examiner in an email Monday.
Of course, the trial might never happen, and other legal matters could delay it. The Cochran campaign this week will ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, and regardless of how the bench rules, the loser will likely appeal the decision.
McDaniel narrowly defeated Cochran in a June 3 primary but lost to Cochran by more than 7,000 votes two weeks later in a runoff. Mississippi doesn’t register voters by party and permits any registered voter to participate in a Democratic or Republican runoff, as long as they did not vote for another party’s candidate in the primary.
Cochran beat McDaniel in part because he convinced thousands of Democrats who did not participate in the June 3 Democratic Senate primary to vote for him in the June 24 runoff. Cochran also turned out thousands of Republicans who did not vote on June 3.
McDaniel is alleging that Cochran profited from thousands of fraudulent runoff votes and that McDaniel was the true winner of the June 24 contest.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story used an incorrect date for Chris McDaniel's hearing. The Washington Examiner regrets the error.