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: 147382

Reported Deaths: 3763
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto973199
Hinds9668197
Harrison6898109
Jackson6178119
Rankin5319100
Lee487695
Madison4666106
Forrest371386
Jones346788
Lauderdale3355144
Lafayette317549
Washington3122107
Lamar283449
Oktibbeha240861
Bolivar240184
Lowndes229763
Neshoba2177115
Panola215849
Marshall209650
Leflore201490
Pontotoc196128
Monroe191477
Sunflower190555
Lincoln186865
Warren172657
Tate165451
Union163925
Pike160658
Copiah159540
Yazoo152039
Scott150729
Coahoma148743
Itawamba148234
Pearl River146567
Alcorn146327
Simpson145153
Prentiss141230
Adams137949
Grenada137745
Leake131943
Holmes126561
Tippah123030
George122324
Covington119737
Winston119124
Wayne116223
Hancock115939
Marion111646
Attala109833
Tishomingo106542
Chickasaw104132
Newton103629
Tallahatchie96327
Clarke88853
Clay87127
Jasper81222
Walthall75328
Stone73114
Calhoun72913
Montgomery72125
Carroll70614
Lawrence70314
Yalobusha70027
Noxubee69717
Smith69616
Perry65426
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57616
Jefferson Davis55017
Humphreys52918
Amite51814
Benton48717
Quitman4816
Webster42114
Kemper41918
Wilkinson38722
Jefferson34211
Franklin3265
Choctaw3117
Sharkey30717
Issaquena1124
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 239318

Reported Deaths: 3532
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31391491
Mobile19562361
Tuscaloosa12813154
Madison12741146
Montgomery12198235
Shelby1000577
Baldwin847398
Lee764466
Morgan634348
Calhoun6112115
Marshall607954
Etowah606565
Houston517038
DeKalb474736
Cullman428038
Limestone413744
St. Clair409055
Elmore400762
Lauderdale393653
Walker3588108
Talladega343453
Jackson307624
Colbert301941
Blount285539
Autauga268641
Franklin247833
Coffee239715
Dale230354
Dallas224531
Russell22053
Chilton219638
Covington216833
Escambia197431
Chambers173749
Tallapoosa173391
Pike157514
Clarke156319
Marion136535
Winston129923
Lawrence124836
Geneva12028
Pickens119418
Marengo119124
Barbour117010
Bibb116217
Butler114441
Randolph100921
Cherokee100824
Hale94531
Clay90223
Washington90219
Fayette87316
Henry8496
Lowndes79129
Monroe78111
Cleburne75714
Macon72321
Crenshaw70730
Bullock69119
Conecuh68314
Perry6756
Lamar6508
Wilcox63118
Sumter57122
Choctaw41913
Greene41418
Coosa3374
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