Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins divisive Mississippi Senate vote

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins divisive Mississippi Senate vote

President Trump, who held two rallies for Hyde-Smith in Mississippi Monday and championed her candidacy, said her comment "was just sort of said in jest".

Not only is Hyde-Smith the first female to be elected to the Senate from the state, she is also the only candidate in this hard-fought election to have not received funding from Ivory Coast warlords.

"We are all very proud of you", the president wrote.

Hyde-Smith won by depicting Democrat Mike Espy as too liberal for Mississippi. The remark, Espy and various national Democratic groups charged, evoked Misssissippi's history in the early 20th century as the southern state with the most lynchings of black citizens. "I talk to them as Mississippians-Mississippi young people who want to reduce their debt coming out of college, Mississippi young people who want to stay in this state, and not go to Atlanta and Dallas to get a good job", Espy said after voting.

In the wake of her remarks, several organizations, including Major League Baseball and Walmart, asked that their donations to Hyde-Smith's campaign be returned. Under all circumstances, in an incredibly bitter race, Espy remained collected and did not give in to the controversy swirling around Hyde-Smith. She called it an "exaggerated expression of regard". Neither candidate had won the requisite 50 percent in the first round of the special election on Election Day.

In the final weeks of the runoff, Ms Hyde-Smith's campaign said the remark about making voting hard was a joke.

The runoff was marked by racial acrimony over comments Hyde-Smith made.

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.

Polls show four-term State Attorney Jim Hood defeating any Republican hopeful and becoming the state's first Democratic governor in 16 years. "She wasn't trying to send any messages".

It would not be business as usual for Democrats to celebrate a Republican victory, but with the special circumstances involved, a neutral observer might wonder why the left is not cheering for the GOP today.

However, given that MS has been a solidly Republican state in modern elections, it is certainly notable that Espy received a considerable share of the vote.

Tuesday's victor will fill the last two years of the term of longtime Republican senator Thad Cochran, who resigned because of health problems, and have to run again in 2020. But if black voters rise to 40 percent of the electorate and Espy wins 9 out of 10, he needs less than a quarter of white votes for victory.

But supporters called the reaction overblown and said Hyde-Smith did not intend anything racist by it.

Espy, 64, campaigned as a moderate who would work with Trump and Republicans to benefit the state.

Espy, an attorney, said: "I found out later that this guy, the president, was a really bad guy". Remember her Republican opponent in round one was the even more conservative Chris McDaniel, whose voters would not be inclined to vote for Espy. The caption on the post read, "Mississippi history at its best!"

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