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.

Cases: 297321

Reported Deaths: 6805
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19814231
Hinds18949395
Harrison16886282
Rankin12842265
Jackson12750234
Lee9720163
Madison9516204
Jones8035148
Forrest7289138
Lauderdale6872228
Lowndes6061140
Lamar593381
Lafayette5767114
Washington5232130
Bolivar4630124
Oktibbeha443095
Panola433698
Pearl River4212132
Warren4144115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall405995
Monroe3996129
Union397174
Neshoba3848171
Lincoln3624104
Hancock352978
Leflore3400121
Sunflower320986
Tate303974
Pike302697
Scott296171
Alcorn292763
Yazoo292066
Itawamba290675
Coahoma283069
Tippah280065
Copiah279959
Simpson277581
Prentiss271258
Marion258878
Wayne255641
Leake254172
Covington250280
Grenada248878
Adams235778
George232745
Newton232753
Winston222179
Jasper214145
Tishomingo213266
Attala206971
Chickasaw201954
Holmes182870
Clay179452
Stone173429
Tallahatchie171739
Clarke170773
Calhoun158628
Smith153833
Yalobusha145736
Greene128133
Walthall125441
Montgomery123540
Noxubee123431
Perry123235
Lawrence121421
Carroll119425
Amite112435
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99824
Claiborne99030
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper91423
Quitman77514
Franklin76420
Choctaw70117
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62727
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 499411

Reported Deaths: 10149
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson719951403
Mobile36396741
Madison32674469
Tuscaloosa24391423
Montgomery22789523
Shelby22250219
Baldwin19915289
Lee15070161
Calhoun13961296
Morgan13785255
Etowah13413327
Marshall11458215
Houston10121264
Elmore9509190
Limestone9435139
St. Clair9050228
Cullman8993183
Lauderdale8628214
DeKalb8507175
Talladega7643165
Walker6600260
Jackson6551104
Autauga634492
Blount6252128
Colbert6007121
Coffee5261104
Dale4680107
Russell407534
Franklin400779
Covington3996107
Chilton3911104
Escambia379473
Tallapoosa3637143
Clarke344553
Chambers3432111
Dallas3428142
Pike292973
Marion288796
Lawrence285787
Winston258568
Bibb246058
Marengo244657
Geneva240270
Pickens225757
Barbour213851
Hale212569
Fayette202657
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178140
Monroe166739
Randolph165141
Washington157036
Macon147845
Crenshaw146755
Clay146254
Cleburne140141
Lamar133933
Lowndes133151
Wilcox123225
Bullock117736
Conecuh107224
Perry106427
Sumter100832
Coosa90324
Greene88732
Choctaw55723
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