/In historic Senate showdown, Mississippi will elect first woman or first African American

In historic Senate showdown, Mississippi will elect first woman or first African American

Just a few days after Thanksgiving, Mississippi voters can elect a woman Congressman for the first-time or send an African American Senator to the U.S Senate. This is the first time since Reconstruction. In the Nov. 27 runoff election, Cindy Hyde Smith, a Republican U.S. Senator, will face Mike Espy (a Democrat and former secretary to the cabinet), who will fill the remaining seat left vacant by Sen. ThadCochran’s retirement earlier this year. Polls and pundits have predicted that Hyde-Smith would face Espy. Both were previously state ag commissioners and U.S. agricultural secretary. These predictions were correct with each candidate getting around 40 percent of votes. The far-right challenger state senator Chris McDaniel won about 17 percent. McDaniel was almost elected to replace Cochran four year ago. McDaniel led a bitter campaign to cast Hyde Smith, a former Democratic lawmaker as too conservative. He conceded defeat and encouraged his supporters to join the fight against Espy. They won this one fair-and-square. McDaniel said to his supporters in Laurel that it’s not the same as in ’14. He also added about Sen. Hyde Smith: “I don’t believe she’s the conservative for this State.” I can assure you that Mike Espy does not belong anywhere near the United States Senate. We must unite under Trump’s leadership. McDaniel’s followers seemed to understand the message. “I believe she is an establishment that slowly loses ground in the same direction that the Democrat Party. James Charles Smith, a McDaniel Supporter from Webster County, said that slower is better than wide open. David Taylor of Laurel was less hesitant but he promised he would do it. “You have to vote for less evil sometimes. Because I believed in Chris McDaniel, I voted today for him. Taylor stated that he believed in his platforms. “But I will vote to elect the lesser of two evils if it’s the only option that I have,” Taylor said. For most of the night, 300 people hoped that Espy’s candidate would win Tuesday’s majority and avoid a runoff. At 9:30 p.m., Espy and his family walked up to the stage. It was clear that he would need to fight for that title. Espy explained to the crowd that his new chant would be “fight fight, fight, fight” instead of “I like Mike”. His nephew Chuck Espy (Clarksdale mayor) stood at the back of the Jackson Hilton conference hall and said “Who knows? Maybe this will be the next big chapter in Mississippi history.” He was referring to 1986 when his uncle won 2nd District, making him the first African American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Mississippi. “You have stood by me before. “Are you going to stand beside me again?” Espy asked to a large crowd who gave a loud cheer. “That’s what I thought.” Espy said he would run an aggressive campaign to win the runoff, stating that he would emphasize his desire to improve state health care. Espy stated that he would ensure pre-existing conditions are covered and make sure rural hospitals remain open. This is what he repeated in recent weeks. Espy, his family and friends left the stage to listen to “Love Train” from the O’Jays. He took photos and spoke with many supporters. Carla Allen, Jackson’s real estate agent, stated that Espy was hoping to win Tuesday’s majority vote, but she said that Espy is grateful for a second round. He is the right man for the job. Hyde-Smith also held a Jackson watch party, echoing McDaniel’s call for Republican unity. Hyde-Smith was flanked in the back by Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to Cochran’s interim seat, along with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker. Wicker was also successful in his reelection campaign against David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis), by a margin that ranged from 59 percent to 39%. Baria made it clear to the crowd, which had grown to 40 by this point, that he had called Wicker twice to ask him to concede, despite his “beloved Gulf Coast countries” not reporting. Baria, who had never ran in a state-wide election before, said that the most eye-opening aspect of his campaign was listening and learning from Mississippians about their concerns. They had felt ignored for years by conservative politicians. Baria plans to talk to Wicker and ask him to “stand up” to Trump, especially when he disparages women. Baria and Brandon Jones, his partner in law firm, stressed the effort the campaign made to strengthen the infrastructure for future Democratic campaigns. After his concession speech, Baria said that the campaign’s social media strategies, as well as networks of local officials (everyone from clerks to county supervisors, to council members, to name a few) could be easily handed to a candidate for 2019. Baria stated that Jay Hughes will be able to take what we have done and sit down with him to discuss it or to do whatever work he requires. He can take what we have done and build it up. He can scale it.” Contributing by Michelle Liu. Follow Mississippi Today’s coverage of the historic runoff between Cindy Hyde Smith and Mike Espy. To support this work, make a regular donation to celebrate our Spring Member Drive. This will allow us to continue important work such as this story. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think. Republish this Story