Mississippi voters to decide final midterm Senate race
by Harvest Prude
Posted 11/27/18, 10:33 am
President Donald Trump attended two rallies on Monday in an effort to bolster Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith’s chances against Democrat Mike Epsy in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate runoff election in Mississippi. Hyde-Smith is favored to keep Republican Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, an appointment she gained when Cochrane resigned in April due to health concerns. On Nov. 6, neither of the front-runners earned more than the 50 percent of the vote required to avoid a runoff: Hyde-Smith finished on top with 41.3 percent while former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Epsy trailed close behind at 40.9 percent.
The Senate race has been fraught with controversy since Hyde-Smith complimented a major supporter of her campaign by saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Some interpreted her remarks as racially insensitive, and several major corporations, including Walmart, Google, and AT&T, asked for refunds of their campaign contributions. Epsy called her remarks “a black eye” for the state. After initial resistance, Hyde-Smith later apologized but claimed her comment was misinterpreted and used as a weapon against her. Epsy has also come under fire for his lobbying work for former Ivory Coast President Lauren Gbagbo, who currently faces charges of crimes against humanity.
According to a recent poll, Hyde-Smith leads by 9 percentage points. Trump carried the state by 18 points in 2016. At Monday’s rallies he defended his candidate, telling voters not to “take any chances” on letting Democrats wrestle back control of the state. A Hyde-Smith win would give Republicans a 53-47 majority in the new year.
Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email
Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.