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Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi US Senate runoff amid racial controversies

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith will win...

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 1:20 PM
Updated: Nov 28, 2018 1:21 PM

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith will win Mississippi's US Senate runoff election, CNN projects, in a contest that centered on her actions and comments evoking the state's dark history of racism and slavery.

Hyde-Smith will defeat Democratic challenger Mike Espy, a former congressman and agriculture secretary, in the last Senate race to be decided in 2018. The victory will make her the first woman ever elected to Congress from Mississippi.

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Her win on Tuesday means Republicans will hold 53 seats to Democrats' 47 seats in the Senate in January. The GOP grew its majority in the Senate by two seats in this year's midterm elections even as Democrats took control of the House.

Hyde-Smith's victory also means that there will be 24 women in the Senate next year. That will set a new record for women serving in the Senate, one more than the current high, set during this Congress.

Hyde-Smith will finish out the final two years of former Sen. Thad Cochran's term, who retired earlier this year due to health concerns. Hyde-Smith will have to run again in 2020 to serve a full six-year term.

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President Donald Trump visited Mississippi on Monday to rally Republican voters behind Hyde-Smith after her comments about a "public hanging" set off weeks of controversy.

It began when video emerged online of her telling supporters earlier this month that she'd be "on the front row" if one of her supporters "invited me to a public hanging." She later called the comments an "exaggerated expression of regard," but her use of the phrase brought memories of Mississippi's history of lynchings to the forefront and put the contest under the national microscope.

Asked about her remark in a debate, Hyde-Smith said she would "certainly apologize" to anyone who was offended, but then pivoted to an attack on her opponent.

"This comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me," Hyde-Smith said.

Hyde-Smith's comments prompted deeper dives into her history.

The same progressive blogger who published the video of her using the phrase "public hanging" later published one in which Hyde-Smith told a small group at Mississippi State University that suppressing the votes of students at other colleges was "a great thing." Her campaign said it was a joke, but that explanation backfired when the black student seen laughing in a picture from the event her campaign posted on Twitter responded that Hyde-Smith's campaign was using him as a prop.

On Friday, the Jackson Free Press reported that Hyde-Smith had attended a private high school that was founded in 1970 so that white parents could avoid attempts to integrate public schools. Hyde-Smith's daughter later attended a similar private school established around the same time, according to the Free Press. The senator's campaign responded to the report by attacking the "liberal media."

Over the weekend, CNN reported that Hyde-Smith once promoted a measure that praised a Confederate soldier's effort to "defend his homeland" and had pushed a revisionist view of the Civil War.

In photos posted to her Facebook account in 2014, Hyde-Smith was pictured posing with Confederate artifacts during a visit to Beauvoir, the home and library of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The caption on the post read, "Mississippi history at its best!"

Democrats had hoped a surge in turnout among black voters -- who make up nearly 40% of Mississippi's population, the largest share in the nation -- could carry Espy to victory in a state that is highly polarized along racial lines, with most white voters backing GOP candidates and black voters supporting Democrats.

Espy's campaign hammered Hyde-Smith with television ads that cast her as an embarrassment to a state that has attempted to overcome its history of slavery and racism.

"We've worked hard to overcome the stereotypes that hurt our economy and cost us jobs. Her words should not reflect Mississippi's values, either," a narrator said in one ad. The ad also called Hyde-Smith "so embarrassing, she'd be a disaster for Mississippi."

Several companies that had donated to Hyde-Smith's campaign, including Walmart, publicly withdrew their support for the senator over the "public hanging" comment.

The controversies surrounding her set off a major push by national Republicans to avoid the same embarrassment they'd suffered last year in Alabama over the Senate campaign of Roy Moore and save Hyde-Smith.

While Hyde-Smith largely stayed off the campaign trail, the party's infrastructure rallied to her defense. GOP groups spent $4 million on the Mississippi runoff -- much more than Democrats' $1.2 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Republican groups spent more than twice as much as Democrats on television advertisements, per the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.

Trump's visits to Mississippi on Monday night were also seen as bid to rally the Republican base to vote in an election taking place two days after the Thanksgiving weekend.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 91935

Reported Deaths: 2780
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6903153
DeSoto532153
Harrison368771
Jackson334367
Madison318086
Rankin313473
Lee254066
Jones236078
Forrest231069
Washington215671
Lafayette203039
Lauderdale1984123
Bolivar177465
Oktibbeha173749
Lamar156633
Neshoba1524103
Panola140926
Sunflower138543
Lowndes138457
Warren136650
Leflore134380
Pontotoc120416
Pike120148
Monroe117665
Scott115925
Copiah115433
Coahoma110927
Holmes108458
Marshall106714
Grenada104535
Lincoln104453
Yazoo103429
Simpson100142
Union96524
Tate94537
Leake93535
Adams89135
Wayne87121
Pearl River84850
Marion83633
Covington79321
Prentiss78617
Alcorn75310
Newton74722
Itawamba74121
George73913
Tallahatchie73418
Winston71919
Tishomingo65035
Attala63625
Chickasaw63524
Tippah63516
Walthall58925
Clay56216
Hancock55420
Noxubee54015
Jasper53615
Clarke52538
Smith51714
Calhoun50612
Tunica47213
Montgomery45020
Claiborne44916
Lawrence42212
Yalobusha41314
Perry39016
Humphreys36915
Quitman3625
Stone34611
Greene33516
Webster32813
Jefferson Davis32211
Carroll30812
Amite30710
Wilkinson30117
Kemper28515
Sharkey25812
Jefferson2359
Benton2151
Franklin1863
Choctaw1775
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128097

Reported Deaths: 2264
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18648332
Mobile12949288
Montgomery8560170
Madison736573
Tuscaloosa7015112
Lee558259
Shelby550149
Baldwin502148
Marshall376342
Etowah326344
Calhoun321139
Morgan312925
Houston260621
Elmore247547
DeKalb230119
St. Clair218134
Walker217780
Talladega199925
Limestone191919
Cullman180017
Franklin172728
Dallas172526
Russell16912
Autauga162424
Lauderdale159231
Colbert157224
Escambia154324
Blount150413
Jackson146610
Chilton143325
Dale128042
Covington127027
Coffee12388
Pike11329
Tallapoosa112483
Chambers110642
Clarke104417
Marion91428
Butler90238
Barbour8097
Marengo69319
Winston68512
Lowndes64327
Pickens62214
Bibb6179
Hale60828
Bullock58514
Randolph58512
Lawrence57620
Monroe5708
Washington54513
Geneva5404
Perry5356
Wilcox52911
Cherokee52816
Clay5187
Conecuh51611
Crenshaw51531
Macon46619
Henry4524
Sumter41719
Fayette4128
Choctaw34212
Lamar3302
Cleburne3116
Greene29915
Coosa1573
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