Analysis: Mississippi US Senate race draws outside attention

Democratic challenger Mike Espy and Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith are both receiving help from out-of-state politicians as they compete for a U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi.

Posted: Oct 25, 2020 9:34 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Democratic challenger Mike Espy and Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith are both receiving help from out-of-state politicians as they compete for a U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi.

Hyde-Smith defeated Espy in a 2018 special election runoff, and now he's trying to reverse that outcome. The previous election was to fill the final two years of a six-year term started by longtime Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. Hyde-Smith was the state agriculture commissioner when she was appointed to serve temporarily when Cochran retired because of health problems in the spring of 2018.

This year's election is for a full six-year term, and Republicans are trying to maintain their Senate majority.

“Cindy Hyde-Smith is one of President Trump’s most ardent supporters in the U.S. Senate. And right now, she is under attack," Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee says in a short video on Hyde-Smith's campaign website.

Blackburn — who grew up in Laurel, Mississippi — says that two prominent Democratic women, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, are supporting Espy.

“Now, we need your help for Cindy to send her back to the U.S. Senate so that she can be there to defend your freedoms, your liberties and to stand with President Trump,” Blackburn says.

Espy, who is a former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary, received campaign help last week from a Democratic former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, who traveled to Jackson to speak at a luncheon for union members, civil rights activists and others who could be important to turning out the vote for Democrats.

“There’s an unusually clear choice here in Mississippi and across the country, frankly, about whether we’re going to be about yesterday or be about tomorrow," Patrick told The Associated Press in an interview after the event.

Patrick said the coronavirus pandemic has exposed economic fragility and “measures of despair” in the U.S.

“These are things that Black and brown communities have known for a long time, poor people have known for a long time,” Patrick said. "So, now everybody’s feeling it in one form or another. ... And, frankly, Mike Espy is the only one talking about solutions.”

That evening, Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts held an online event to promote Espy, with Espy and Patrick appearing together from the campaign office in Mississippi.

Patrick also campaigned for Espy in Mississippi in 2018, as did New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris, who's now the Democratic nominee for vice president.

If elected, Espy would become Mississippi's first Black U.S. senator since Reconstruction. Hyde-Smith is the only woman to have represented Mississippi in either chamber of Congress.

Espy picked up an endorsement last week from former President Barack Obama, who cut a radio ad. The Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, had endorsed Espy weeks earlier.

The same day the Espy campaign announced his Obama endorsement, Hyde-Smith received a tweet of support from Trump, who campaigned for her in Mississippi during the 2018 race.

Republicans hold all statewide offices in Mississippi, and voters in the state last elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 1982, when they sent longtime incumbent John C. Stennis back to Washington for his final term.

From July through September, the Espy campaign raised $4 million and the Hyde-Smith campaign raised $814,704, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Donations flowed to Espy and many other Democratic candidates after the Sept. 18 death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Like many in his party, Espy criticized Republicans for moving quickly to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

Hyde-Smith praised Trump for nominating a conservative appellate court judge, Amy Coney Barrett, to the nation's top court, and she supports Barrett's confirmation.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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