Few lines at polls as MS votes in US Senate runoff

Geneva Stokes
November 30, 2018

MS voters are deciding a racially charged Senate election that has dredged up the Deep South state's ugly past.

The last U.S. Senate race of the midterms was coming to a close Tuesday as MS residents chose between a white Republican Senate appointee whose "public hanging" comments angered many people and a black Democrat who was agriculture secretary when Bill Clinton was in the White House. Hyde-Smith said the comment had been twisted and turned into "a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent".

Nevertheless she is expected to win in the staunchly Republican state. She's fended off controversy for weeks over a video of her saying she'd be "on the front row" if one of her supporters "invited me to a public hanging".

The senator's comment evoked the lynching of African Americans in a state whose past is rife with racial violence.

Henry Barbour, the Republican National Committee committeeman and a longtime MS operative, said base voters in both parties are energized, but gave a slight edge to Espy's supporters.

Hyde-Smith campaign hammered Espy for his $750,000 lobbying contract in 2011 with the Cocoa and Coffee Board of the Ivory Coast. "I support him. I also support Cindy, but I really do believe in Trump", said voter Sara Rutherford of Shannon, Mississippi.

Those comments aren't the only ones that have raised questions about Hyde-Smith and race relations. Whose judgement was it that a donation to her campaign, in that amount, at that particular time, made sense?

On Monday, several nooses were found at the MS capitol in Jackson in an apparent protest against the tone of the election. One of the signs says MS needs a senator "who respects the lives of lynch victims".

"I think Espy supporters are probably a little more energized than Hyde-Smith", Barbour said.

"Well, I know her and I know she apologized, and she misspoke", Trump told reporters on Moday at the White House, according to Politico.

Trippi advised Jones during his improbable win in Alabama past year, and emphasized that Jones won by only 23,000 votes despite facing a historically bad opponent who motivated Democratic voters and depressed GOP turnout.

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Hyde-Smith was also helped by an election eve visit by President Trump, who held two rallies with her on Monday. Cindy Hyde-Smith overcame criticism for comments she made about a " public hanging " to defeat former U.S.

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President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence launched a rescue mission in MS for a Republican candidate on the eve of a run-off election for the US Senate, with Democrats hoping to win a seat in the state for the first time since 1982.

Additionally, CNN's KFile reported over the weekend that Hyde-Smith once promoted a measure that praised a Confederate soldier's effort to "defend his homeland" and pushed a revisionist view of the Civil War.

"We can't afford a senator who embarrasses us and reinforces the stereotypes we've worked so hard to overcome", one ad for the Democrat said.

In that race, Hyde-Smith took 41 percent of the vote, Espy took 40 percent, and Tea Party favorite and conservative Republican State Senator Chris McDaniel took 16 percent.

The last contest of the midterm election cycle, Tuesday's election will not affect the balance of power in the new Congress that sits in January.

At rallies in Tupelo and then in Biloxi, Trump praised Hyde-Smith and called on voters to send her back to Washington.

Why is the election still ongoing?

MS voters are deciding the last U.S. Senate race of the midterms, choosing between a white Republican Senate appointee backed by President Donald Trump and a black Democrat who was agriculture secretary when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

Hyde-Smith was projected to win by about 70,000 votes over Espy, a former congressman and agriculture secretary under Barack Obama.

Respondents to the RRH Elections poll closely tracked those actual results. Republicans will still hold a Senate majority even if Hyde-Smith loses, while Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives.

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