Mississippi Republican Comfortably Wins US Senate Seat

Aaron Brown
November 29, 2018

The same progressive blogger who published the video of her using the phrase "public hanging" later published one in which Hyde-Smith told a small group at Mississippi State University that suppressing the votes of students at other colleges was "a great thing". Under all circumstances, in an incredibly bitter race, Espy remained collected and did not give in to the controversy swirling around Hyde-Smith.

Hyde-Smith's comments prompted deeper dives into her history. Trump held two get-out-the-vote rallies in the state on the eve of the election.

Still, bolstered by unwavering support from President Donald Trump in historically conservative Mississippi, Hyde-Smith cruised to a relatively easy victory.

With the GOP holding onto the seat in MS, they have achieved a net gain of two seats in the Senate, entering the next Congress in January with a 53-47 seat advantage.

Her supporters said the furor over her comments was overblown. After nine days of not commenting on her remarks and the controversy they generated, Hyde-Smith made a pseudo-apology during the Senate debate on November 20.

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Hyde-Smith, who originally was elected to the Mississippi State Senate as a Democrat, switched parties in 2010 and was elected state agriculture commissioner in 2011, the first woman elected to that office. Doug Jones successfully employed last year in Alabama to become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from that state in 25 years. And southern Democrats will continue to feel some frustration at their three strong but ultimately unsuccessful performances behind the historic statewide candidacies of African-Americans Espy, Stacey Abrams (Georgia gubernatorial nominee) and Andrew Gillum (Florida gubernatorial nominee).

Most notably, at a public campaign event, Hyde-Smith said that if a supporter invited her to "a public hanging, I'd be on the front row". Given Mississippi's recent pro-Republican complexion (it's been a long time since a Democrat won a Senate, gubernatorial or presidential election there) and history of racial polarization, the idea of an African-American Democrat like Espy winning seemed remote, even though Hyde-Smith ran a awful campaign marked by serial gaffes of a racially inflammatory nature.

Hyde-Smith's campaign team defended those comments too, with spokesperson Melissa Scallan telling The Washington Post that the comment was simply " a joke". 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. 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.

In 2014, Hyde-Smith posted a picture on Facebook of herself wearing a replica of a Confederate army hat.

Some corporate donors, including Walmart, requested refunds on their campaign contributions to Hyde-Smith after the videos surfaced. Hyde-Smith now leads 56 percent to 44 percent, although the remaining uncounted vote figures to be Democratic-leaning. She accused Espy of twisting her words for political gain.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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