30 November, 2018
Cindy Hyde-Smith has won the runoff in Mississippi's special Senate election. Given Mississippi's recent pro-Republican complexion (it's been a long time since a Democrat won a Senate, gubernatorial or presidential election there) and history of racial polarization, the idea of an African-American Democrat like Espy winning seemed remote, even though Hyde-Smith ran a bad campaign marked by serial gaffes of a racially inflammatory nature.
Hyde-Smith won by depicting Democrat Mike Espy as too liberal for Mississippi.
Cindy Hyde-Smith returns to Washington as a solidly loyal supporter of President Donald Trump after he stumped for her in a divisive MS runoff shaped by her video-recorded remark about "public hanging".
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, an incumbent appointed to office in April to fill longtime Republican Sen.
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She had the backing of the state and national Republican establishment and by Trump throughout the controversies.
The public outcry against her marks was loud and angry and "moved the dial" to Espy, according to political columnist Geoff Pender of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
'I guess what I'm really saying is F*** Hyde-Smith and anyone who voted for her. They also stuck by her as a photo was circulated of her wearing a replica Confederate military hat during a 2014 visit to Beauvoir, the last home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. "Mississippi history at its best!" she wrote in the post. As a candidate, Espy struck a moderate tone, opening last week's debate with a "Mississippi first" slogan that implicitly alluded to Trump's own rhetoric.
Several businesses, including giant retailer Walmart, had demanded Hyde-Smith return their donations after her public hanging comment. At a November 2 campaign stop, she praised a longtime supporter. However, Hyde-Smith's comments did not have the same electoral impact as the allegations of sexual assault against Moore did in Alabama. But his biggest hope was driving up turnout among African-Americans.
In a state with a black population of 38 percent, Espy - the state's first black congressman and later the nation's first black state secretary of agriculture - was formidable from the start.
In the aftermath of the video, Republicans anxious they could face a repeat of last year's special election in Alabama, in which a flawed Republican candidate handed Democrats a reliable GOP Senate seat in the Deep South. While he was eventually acquitted on all charges, the Mississippi Democrat has been out of public office for almost 25 years, spending the past decade as a private attorney.
But all that was not enough to fell her in a state with the most racially polarized voting in the country.