Tea party activists monitor Cochran’s outreach to blacks, Democrats

Tea party activists are keeping close watch for signs of voter fraud today at polling places in Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran (R) is fighting for his political survival in a primary runoff against state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R).

Freedomworks teamed up with other organizations supporting McDaniel to keep watch for irregularities, especially in areas where Cochran is courting Democrats and African Americans. All voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote in the Republican primary, as long as they did not also cast a vote in the parallel Democratic primary.

Cochran and allied groups have been trying to convince Democrats and African Americans (who are mostly Democrats) to vote for him in the runoff. One group has posted pro-Cochran ads in newspapers geared toward black readers. The ads tout Cochran's record of steering funds to historically black colleges and universities and cast him as a bipartisan figure.

One of the activists keeping tabs on the situation on the ground said Tuesday afternoon the vote was mostly unfolding without incident so far.

“All quiet on the western front,” said Adam Brandon, executive vice president at Freedomworks.

On Monday, the Mississippi attorney general and secretary of state warned third-party groups that they must keep their distance from polling places.

“There is no authority in state law for a PAC or other outside group to place ‘election observers’ in Mississippi polling places,” their offices said in a joint statement instructing such observers to stay at least 30 feet away.

A Cochran adviser speaking on the condition of anonymity to provide a candid assessment said Tuesday afternoon that turnout looked high and could exceed the June 3 primary vote. McDaniel edged out Cochran in that vote, but neither candidate received a majority.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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