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.

Confirmed Cases: 29684

Reported Deaths: 1103
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds238239
DeSoto148616
Madison126734
Jones110449
Neshoba98171
Lauderdale90079
Rankin88812
Forrest85142
Harrison84210
Scott76215
Copiah59216
Jackson58416
Leake57019
Holmes54441
Wayne53513
Lee53218
Oktibbeha53226
Washington5319
Warren49618
Yazoo4936
Leflore48049
Lowndes47212
Lincoln44334
Lamar4407
Grenada4325
Pike40712
Monroe38830
Lafayette3774
Attala35823
Sunflower3467
Newton3389
Covington3345
Panola3256
Bolivar32114
Adams29318
Simpson2833
Pontotoc2736
Marion27011
Tate2709
Chickasaw26918
Claiborne25610
Jasper2566
Winston2546
Noxubee2538
Pearl River24832
Clay24710
Marshall2173
Smith21611
Clarke20524
Coahoma1916
Union1919
Walthall1804
Kemper17714
Lawrence1701
Yalobusha1677
Carroll16411
Itawamba1348
Humphreys1329
Calhoun1284
Tippah12811
Hancock12613
Webster12610
Montgomery1242
Tallahatchie1224
Jefferson Davis1094
Prentiss1023
Greene1018
Jefferson993
Tunica933
Wilkinson929
Amite892
George783
Tishomingo741
Quitman730
Choctaw724
Perry654
Alcorn631
Stone571
Franklin412
Sharkey340
Benton300
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4802152
Montgomery3947103
Mobile3904134
Tuscaloosa218842
Marshall168010
Lee130237
Madison12717
Shelby117623
Morgan10475
Walker90524
Franklin87814
Dallas8689
Elmore86414
Baldwin8289
Etowah70713
DeKalb6945
Butler62328
Chambers61227
Tallapoosa58369
Autauga56012
Russell5190
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4736
Limestone4660
Lowndes46321
Houston4614
Cullman4354
Pike4175
Colbert3836
Coffee3702
Bullock3679
St. Clair3472
Barbour3452
Covington3437
Escambia3326
Calhoun3225
Hale30621
Marengo30011
Talladega3007
Wilcox2898
Sumter28412
Clarke2726
Dale2680
Jackson2632
Winston2463
Monroe2312
Chilton2282
Blount2261
Pickens2226
Marion21413
Randolph2019
Conecuh1977
Choctaw19512
Bibb1861
Greene1838
Macon1819
Perry1621
Henry1313
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1050
Washington1047
Cherokee857
Geneva780
Lamar751
Fayette671
Clay622
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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