WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is calling for a criminal investigation into possible voter fraud in June's Mississippi Republican runoff election, calling it "appalling" that Democratic crossover votes likely delivered a narrow victory to incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
"What we know at the outset is that Chris McDaniel won a sizable majority of the votes from Republicans who voted in the runoff," Cruz said Monday night on the Mark Levin Show, a syndicated radio talk show.
"But the D.C. machine spent hundreds of thousands of dollars urging some 30,000 to 40,000 partisan Democrats to vote to in the runoff, which changed the outcome."
Citing "serious allegations" of voter fraud, Cruz said "the only fair thing to do for the citizens of Mississippi is to investigate the allegations seriously and then prosecute anyone who was involved in criminal conduct."
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Justice Department's Criminal Division, said "at this time, we aren't in a position to comment" on whether an inquiry is warranted.
"It would be abominable if Republicans were involved in voter fraud," said Cruz, a leader of the TEA Party, which had high hopes McDaniel would capture the seat Cochran has held for six terms.
Even as Cruz lambasted the tactics of establishment Republicans, Cochran's campaign said Monday night the number of questionable votes found so far in an examination of election records was far fewer than Cochran's 7,600-vote margin of victory. However, ballots had yet to be examined in Hinds County, though it has among the lowest percentages of black residents.
Ballots are being reviewed in other counties, but Austin Barbour, a senior adviser to Cochran's campaign, said Monday the state GOP's Executive Committee had submitted certified results to Mississippi's secretary of state.
The race between the Cochran and McDaniel was one of the fiercest ever in the state and crystallized the internecine battle over the future of the national GOP.
"I mean primaries are always rough and tumble," Cruz said, "but the conduct of the Washington, D.C., machine in the Mississippi runoff was incredibly disappointing."