Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins US Senate race in Mississippi

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins US Senate race in Mississippi

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith has won a divisive race for the Mississippi Senate seat, surviving a video-recorded remark decried as racist. Thad Cochran, the former Appropriations Committee chairman who retired in April due to health concerns.

Multiple sources, including the Associated Press, have called the race in favor of Hyde-Smith.

Polls show four-term State Attorney Jim Hood defeating any Republican hopeful and becoming the state's first Democratic governor in 16 years. "That really offended me", said Charles Connley, 60, a black voter from Picayune.

Hyde-Smith won by depicting Democrat Mike Espy as too liberal for Mississippi.

When the extended footage of the encounter was released for context, the comment became more troubling because it revealed Hyde-Smith was using the phrase in an attempt to thank a supporter for saying she would fight for him.

Shortly after the win Tuesday, Trump tweeted: "Congratulations to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on your big WIN in the Great State of Mississippi". The win capped off a tumultuous final few weeks of the campaign for Hyde-Smith who had a string of controversies, many of them touching on issues of race.

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When asked to elaborate on her remarks, she added: "I'm a cowgirl, and when a cowgirl references western movies that I've seen hundreds of, and somebody twists it, that's just it, you've got to roll with the punches", reports ABC News.

Chances of a Democratic victory in Mississippi- a state Donald Trump won by almost 18 percentage points in the 2016 election and whose senior senator, Republican Roger Wicker, was re-elected by almost 20 points earlier this month - still appeared remote. An ad from his campaign released that day said, "We can't afford a senator who embarrasses us and reinforces the stereotypes we've worked so hard to overcome".

In 2014, Hyde-Smith posted a picture on Facebook of herself wearing a replica of a Confederate army hat. As a candidate, Espy struck a moderate tone, opening last week's debate with a "Mississippi first" slogan that implicitly alluded to Trump's own rhetoric.

Yet, Hyde-Smith's win and the (relatively small) size of it makes a lot of sense when put in the context of this election cycle. He tried to recreate a coalition that propelled Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate win in neighboring Alabama a year ago by energizing black voters, particularly women, and winning support from white swing voters. However, Hyde-Smith's comments did not have the same electoral impact as the allegations of sexual assault against Moore did in Alabama.

In a state with a black population of 38 percent, Espy - the state's first black congressman and later the nation's first black state secretary of agriculture - was formidable from the start.

His team ran what one source familiar with the campaign's efforts called the "largest, strongest field program MS has seen". Working with the state Democratic Party, the campaign sent millions of text messages reminding potential supporters to vote.

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