Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Central Mississippi Tea Party president became trapped in a county courthouse in the middle of the night, hours after officials had stopped counting votes in a Republican Senate primary that’s headed to a runoff.
Janis Lane has been campaigning for months for Chris McDaniel, a tea party-backed challenger who’s trying to unseat six-term Sen. Thad Cochran.
Hinds County Republican executive committee chairman Pete Perry, who’s supporting Cochran, said Lane called him at 2 a.m. Wednesday, saying she and a friend were locked inside the Hinds County Courthouse, that nobody else was inside and they needed help getting out.
Perry said Lane, who is on the GOP county committee, told him she and her friend had gone to the courthouse a few minutes earlier to see how the election process works, entering through an unsecured back basement door that locked behind them. He said Lane told him that when she was trying to get into the courthouse, she spoke to a man she believed was a police officer and that he showed them a door that appeared to be ajar.
Lane did not return calls to The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Perry said he called the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department, and a deputy sent someone to let Lane and her friend out of the locked building.
“I told the deputy, ‘I hope you don’t just let her out. I hope you ask her what she was doing there,'” Perry told AP.
[sharequote align=”center”]”I told the deputy, ‘I hope you don’t just let her out. I hope you ask her what she was doing there.'”[/sharequote]
The sheriff’s department is interviewing people about what happened, department spokesman Othor Cain said Wednesday. He said the courthouse had been closed at 11:30 p.m. and that ballots and voting machines were locked up when Lane and her friend were alone in the courthouse. An initial investigation showed nothing appeared to have been altered, he said.