Mississippi Democrat Espy to run again for US Senate in 2020

Mike Espy announced he's running again for a U.S. Senate seat.

Posted: Nov 12, 2019 10:30 AM
Updated: Nov 12, 2019 5:12 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy announced Tuesday that he's running again for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith, setting up a 2020 rematch of a race that churned up the state's painful racial history.

"I can and will do a better job for the people of Mississippi and the United States," Espy told supporters by email, after telegraphing the move for months.

Mike Espy | Source: MGN Online

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith

A former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. House member, Espy lost their 2018 special election race to fill the last two years of retired Sen. Thad Cochran's six-year term. Hyde-Smith, who was Mississippi's agriculture commissioner when Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to temporarily take Cochran's place, became the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.

The campaign was rocked by a video showing Hyde-Smith praising a supporter by saying she'd attend a "public hanging" if he invited her. She called it an "exaggerated expression of regard."

The comment made Mississippi's lynching history a central theme in the race. Espy took a shot at that history in his announcement video, saying "Cindy Hyde-Smith is hurting Mississippi — our progress and our reputation — and we simply must replace her."

If elected, Espy would be Mississippi's first African American U.S. senator since Reconstruction. The Democrat says he wants to focus on reducing poverty and increasing well-paying jobs in Mississippi, improving schools, ending Trump's trade war that's pressuring farmers financially and making health care more affordable.

Qualifying for next year's party primaries begins Jan. 2. They'll be held on March 10, the same day Mississippians vote in presidential primaries. Party runoffs, if needed, will be March 31, leaving a long stretch for nominees to face off before the November general election.

No Republicans have made any public moves to challenge Hyde-Smith in the GOP primary. During her time in office, Hyde-Smith has often been focused on rural issues and has remained loyal to President Donald Trump.

Espy's announcement comes a week after Democrat Jim Hood lost the governor's race to Republican Tate Reeves, highlighting continuing weakness for Democrats in Mississippi. More voters actually turned out for the runoff between Espy and Hyde-Smith than for the 2019 general election, and other Democrats also lost badly in statewide races.

As he did in the 2018 campaign, Espy said he'll be independent and put Mississippi's needs over loyalty to a party.

"Cindy Hyde-Smith has done little to truly help the Magnolia State," Espy said in his statement. "It feels like a new crisis dominates the headlines every day but does nothing to create jobs or improve our communities. Too often, our current senator puts party over country instead of doing what's best for our state and even our national security."

A spokesman for Hyde-Smith didn't immediately respond to a request for a comment. She's likely to have a substantial financial advantage over Espy. Federal Election Commission data shows Espy raised $100,000 through Sept. 30 and had $131,000 on hand, while Hyde-Smith raised nearly $1 million and had $583,000 on hand.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 81°
Columbus
Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 78°
Tropical Depression Claudette has now moved into Alabama and Georgia, leaving with some cloud cover but dry conditions. Most of us will stay dry through this Father's Day but some spotty showers will likely through the late afternoon.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather