Cochran makes final stop in Hattiesburg, defends courting black vote

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Senator Thad Cochran made a final stop in Hattiesburg before Tuesday's runoff to call supporters and remind them to vote.

"I feel that a vote for me is a vote for experience and representation in Washington," said Cochran.

But opponents are criticizing the way in which Cochran is garnering those votes, particularly in the black community.

Melvin Williams, a black male and registered Democrat, voted for Cochran in the June 3 primary and intends to vote for the six-term senator again in the runoff.

"It's just smart thinking," said Williams. "If you have a candidate who specifically says 'I want my country back' and I'm an African-American, and I know what happened at the beginning of this country, and what we were considered as at the beginning of this country, it's just smart thinking. That's not all-inclusive."

Williams was referring to Chris McDaniel's stump speech of "getting our country back". He said he was never approached by a campaign because he was black.

"I've always reached out and benefited from support from the black community, and I think this election is not going to be any different," said Cochran "I'm really committed to trying to represent the views and interests of all of the people of Mississippi."

Mississippi has open primaries, which means "cross-over" voting is allowed. However, the intention should be that a voter sticks with that same party in the general election, thus being a law that is essentially unenforceable.

A 2003 opinion from the Mississippi attorney general states that poll workers are not able to challenge one's vote unless that voter  "openly declares that he or she does not intend to support the nominees of the party."

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