Hyde-Smith defeats Espy in US Senate runoff

Trump-backed Senate candidate wins election after controversy in Mississippi

Cindy Hyde-Smith overcame racially-tinged verbal gaffes late in her campaign to retain her U.S. Senate seat from Mississippi Tuesday night, defeating Mike Espy, who was seeking to become the state's first black senator since Reconstruction.

Espy followed the strategy of moderation that now-Sen.

Hyde-Smith is the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi. However, Hyde-Smith's comments did not have the same electoral impact as the allegations of sexual assault against Moore did in Alabama.

Hyde-Smith drew controversy toward the end of the campaign when she was caught joking about attending a public hanging.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith to the Senate in April to replace Sen.

While Espy didn't win, the strategy of moderation that he and Jones followed is one Democrats must continue if they hope for the party to become less toxic in rural areas.

He tried to recreate the coalition that propelled Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate win in neighboring Alabama previous year by energizing black voters, particularly women, and winning support from white swing voters.

The runoff election in MS between the two highest vote-getters in the November 6 midterm elections gained a high-degree of national attention because of the many controversial statements and actions made by Hyde-Smith in the weeks leading up to the election.

Her victory means Republicans will hold a 53-47 majority in the new U.S. Senate that convenes in January.

Hyde-Smith offered a brief apology to anyone who may have been offended.

I am hesitant to label anyone a racist given the complexities involved with determining a person's intent. 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.

Her supporters said the furore over her comments was overblown. However, in 2018, it is deeply troubling to hear the term "public hanging" being used in this context by a senator, particularly given the division in our politics. Politico unearthed a 2014 post on Hyde-Smith's Facebook page that included a photo of her wearing a Confederate soldier's hat and holding a rifle during a visit to Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library in Biloxi.

The Jackson Free Press reported that Hyde-Smith attended a so-called "segregation academy", one of hundreds of private schools in MS that were established in the 1960s and 1970s after federal courts ordered public schools to desegregate. And it was revealed that she'd attended a private high school that was created to avoid desegregation - and sent her daughter to one as well.

Some corporate donors, including Walmart, requested refunds on their campaign contributions to Hyde-Smith after the videos surfaced.

Hyde-Smith won the election on a variety of promises including lower taxes, lighter regulations, protecting the life of unborn babies, and better support for the military, police, and war veterans.

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