Cochran Campaign Group Used Democrat Turnout Expert to Beat McDaniel

Image: Cochran Campaign Group Used Democrat Turnout Expert to Beat McDaniel

Friday, 27 Jun 2014 02:07 PM

By Melanie Batley

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A group backing Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran hired a top Democratic get-out-the-vote operative to get Democrats to the polls Tuesday, which has been attributed to the slim victory he pulled off in the GOP open primary runoff against tea party challenger Chris McDaniel.

According to the National Review, two firms associated with Mitzi Bickers, a leading Democratic staffer and political strategist, were paid thousands of dollars to make automated phone calls in support of Cochran’s re-election.

The Mississippi Conservative PAC, which backed Cochran, paid the Bickers Group and the Pirouette Co. $44,000 for get-out-the-vote "phone services," the National Review reported, citing documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The content of the calls placed on Cochran’s behalf is unknown, but toward the end of the runoff campaign, a recording emerged of a call urging voters to vote for Cochran and accusing the tea party of "disrespectful treatment of the country’s first African-American president."

The Cochran campaign said it had no connection with the call, as did the Mississippi Conservative PAC and Bickers.

"The Cochran supporters’ arrangement with Bickers is especially notable, given the role of racial politicking generally and of one sketchy robo-call in particular that raised the ire of tea party voters as the race drew to a close," National Review noted.

Separately, the Cochran campaign hired Democratic operative James "Scooby Doo" Watson to get volunteers on the ground to turn out black voters, concentrated in the Delta region. The investment looks to have delivered returns as turnout jumped by nearly 40 percent in that area on Tuesday, according to the National Review.

McDaniel, who has yet to concede the race, says he’s investigating "rampant" voting irregularities and has called on state election officials to release voter data.

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