Last night, Cindy Hyde-Smith won the special runoff in Mississippi for U.S. Senator against Mike Epsy. The election follows a month-long fight between Hyde-Smith and Epsy, which led to numerous allegations of racism against Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Following Senator Thad Cochran’s resignation from the Senate in April due to health reasons, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed to the Senate by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, with a special election scheduled for election day on November 6th. However, in Mississippi, a candidate must win a majority of the vote, not a plurality. Often, the top two vote-getters will go to a runoff.
Four candidates ran for the Senate seat this November: incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republican Chris McDaniel, Democrat Mike Espy, and Democrat Tobey Bartee. Hyde-Smith and Espy received the most votes and moved onto a runoff election.
During the campaign, Hyde-Smith made a “joke” about lynching, leading to heavy media scrutiny of her campaign and history. A Mississippi newspaper reported that Hyde-Smith attended a segregated private school when she was younger and her daughter now attends that school today. Hyde-Smith also suggested while campaigning that college students should have their votes suppressed. Additionally, Hyde-Smith spent much of her career praising Confederate soldiers.
Mississippi’s Rhodes Scholar called Hyde-Smith a “white supremacist” and the NAACP condemned Hyde-Smith’s comments throughout the campaign as “hurtful and harmful.”
Hyde-Smith won the election with 54% of the vote to Epsy’s 46%, closer than previous Mississippi Senate elections, and only about 70,000 votes separate the two candidates. President Trump, who remains popular in Mississippi, campaigned for Hyde-Smith this week after she received a backlash in the media for her comments. Senator Hyde-Smith will serve the final two years of Cochran’s Senate term and will be up for re-election in 2020.
Washington Post 03/06/2018, CNN 11/06/2018, CNN 11/26/2018, CNN 11/26/2018, HuffPost 11/28/18; NYT 11/28/18