Who would have thought that the Mississippi GOP Senate Primary race would be more exciting and last longer than the World Cup soccer tournament? Well, it’s happening.

You may recall that allegations surfaced that incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) supporters engaged in flagrant race-baiting tactics against Cochran’s June 24 runoff opponent — State Sen. Chris McDaniel. These vicious racial attacks were used by a third party SuperPAC to bash McDaniel’s conservative supporters in order to gin up support by traditional Democratic African-American voters and have them vote for Cochran in the runoff.

Crushing the Tea Party was the goal of the Republican Party, even if it came at a “staggering price.”

Crushing supporters of expanding government and a system of pork barrel politics, not such a priority.

So remind me again, why am I a Republican?

Because it beats being a Democrat?

When the Republican Party establishment needs Democratic voters looking for more government and more pork to win Republican primaries, that’s not a good enough excuse anymore.

These first round of allegations about race-baiting campaign ads were bad enough. But the news just seems to get worse each day for the Cochran camp and his supporters. The latest blockbuster allegation: Cochran’s campaign allegedly gave cash to an African-American preacher so he could literally buy votes for the Senator in the runoff.

Rev. Stevie Fielder, an associate pastor at First Union Missionary Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi, says Cochran’s campaign “told me to offer blacks $15 each and to vote for Thad.”

Fielder, who was paid by freelance journalist Charles C. Johnson for the story, provided a new outlet launched by Johnson—GotNews.com—with four text messages from a person purporting to be Cochran campaign staffer Saleem Baird.

The messages cite an official Cochran campaign email address—[email protected]—and include detailed discussions of the campaign providing envelopes of money to distribute to people who vote.

“Send me individual names and amounts along with home address to [email protected] and I’ll have money separated in envelopes at the office waiting for you,” one message, sent three days before the runoff, says.

Fielder said he helped distribute the Cochran cash for votes on a promise of eventually getting paid $16,000—and because a key Cochran campaign staffer convinced him that Cochran’s conservative challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel was racist.

“They sold me on the fact that he was a racist and that the right thing to do was to keep him out of office,” Fielder said.

But Cochran’s campaign never paid, Fielder said.

This vote-buying allegation has lit up the right-of-center blogosphere and has become its own mini-scandal. Bloggers are debating who to trust, which sources are legitimate, and how deep the “GOP Establishment” is in the Mississippi muck of the Cochran runoff campaign. Fielder himself isn’t seen as a reliable witness by some in the MS black community, and Saleem Baird — Cochran’s campaign aide, and legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) also has a checkered past.

Now the Federal Elections Commission seems interested to know if any election laws or reporting laws were violated in the Cochran-McDaniel slug fest.

The Federal Election Commission is looking into whether Mississippi Conservatives PAC violated campaign finance law in its bid to help re-elect Mississippi U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.

The inquiry, sent as a Request for Additional Information, or RFAI, provides another bit of drama in a heated primary battle in which Cochran narrowly defeated state senator Chris McDaniel.

The FEC, which monitors spending in federal elections, notified the political action committee that it may have failed to file one or more “24 hour reports,” which track “last minute” independent expenditures.

Political action committees are required to file the reports within the 24-hour window for any expenditures $1,000 or greater made between two and 20 days before an election. The regulation is meant to increase oversight as elections draw near.

When one clears all of the smoke aside from these ugly allegations, the fact of the matter is Cochran beat McDaniel in the June 24 runoff by less than 7,000 votes.

But the McDaniel campaign may have an ace in the hole on that one as well: widespread voter fraud or irregularities.

Chris McDaniel’s campaign has found 1,500 invalid votes in Hinds County and the search continues for more who voted in the Democratic primary on June 3 and in the Republican runoff on June 24, according to a report on foxnews.com.

Even if the campaign doesn’t find enough invalid votes to erase Sen. Thad Cochran’s nearly 7,000-vote win, McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch said the “cancel by doubt” strategy could be used if enough irregularities can be found.

McDaniel has an ally on this voter fraud allegation as the conservative election watchdog “True The Vote” filed a lawsuit against Mississippi’s Secretary of State in Federal court on Tuesday.

The lawsuit comes as allegations that Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) campaign and his allies engaged in voter fraud to win last Tuesday’s runoff against conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Cochran bested McDaniel by fewer than 7,000 votes but did so with an overwhelming turnout from liberal Democrats in the black community.

“All we are asking is that the MS State Republican Party follow the law; allow their designated county representatives to inspect the poll books and ballots, give them the review time they are permitted by law, and allow them to uphold their responsibility to MS voters,” True the Vote president Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement about the suit. “True the Vote has been inundated with reports from voters across Mississippi who are outraged to see the integrity of this election being undermined so that politicos can get back to business as usual. Enough is enough.”

True The Vote wants the federal judge to order the state party and Secretary of State’s office to allow independent verification of the election results to ensure there were no “illegal votes.”

Everyone that thought the MS GOP Primary itself was a barnburner may want to strap their boots on a bit tighter — this thing gets uglier every day.


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