SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran is taking some heat from some Republicans for crossing party lines to achieve his victory in the GOP primary runoff. The criticism was especially harsh on national conservative talk radio where words like "trickery" and "pathetic" were used in describing Cochran's campaign strategy.
Voters from across Mississippi had a hand in the decision to make Cochran the GOP nominee. However, some media outlets said without the support of voters in the Delta and Hinds County, both considered to be Democratic strongholds, the outcome of the Republican runoff would have likely been very different.
On Tuesday, Cochran received nearly 17,949 votes in Hinds County. That's a dramatic increase from the roughly 10,000 votes he received in the primary. One voter surprised by the turnout was Chris Cook.
"Mainly that Thad Cochran supported the Democrats and got them out to vote in the Republican primary," said Cook. "I think it was kind of an underhanded move, that it wasn't fair and honest."
"I think there was a lot of dirty politics. Mr. McDaniel was wronged. They should have taken care of this in the state legislature to change the voting practices where you can't cross over from Democrat to vote Republican and vice versa," said Alvin Pekinto.
By Mississippi law, voters are not required to register with a political party. Anyone who doesn't vote in a primary can vote in either party's runoff.
"My thoughts are I don't think we should be condemned for trying to get votes from anybody. It's an election that everybody should have a voice, so whether you're courting Republicans or Democrats," said voter Dennis Arceneaux. "Everybody has a voice, so I don't see any problem with that at all."
Jerry Gilbert is a Democrat who has no problem with the way Cochran ran his campaign.
"I am a Democrat and voted Democrat in the first primary so I was unable to vote in the runoff," said Gilbert. "However, the law in Mississippi enables those who chose not to vote in the first primary to have the ability to vote in the runoff and you can vote either way. You can vote Democrat or Republican. The law is the law. So if somebody courts a group, that's the way it is."
Now the question is will Democrats who supported Cochran in the runoff support him in the general election.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Cochran campaign said Cochran is a senator for all Mississippians and he is happy to receive support from any Mississippian eligible to vote whether Republican, independent or otherwise. The spokesperson said Cochran won a close fought primary election, but now the election is over, and it's time to look forward towards November.
In November, Cochran will face Democrat and former congressman Travis Childers and the Reform Party's Shawn O'Hara in the general election.