Cindy Hyde-Smith wins MS senate seat in special election

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Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith overcame criticism for comments she made about a "public hanging" to defeat former U.S. Rep. and Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy in a Senate runoff election in Mississippi Tuesday.

Espy followed the strategy of moderation that now-Sen.

Hyde-Smith called her suppression comment a joke. Jones defeated Roy Moore, who faced allegations of sexual misconduct, which Moore denied.

Hyde-Smith appeared likely to coast to election after November 8, when she took 42 percent of the vote to Espy's 41 percent and Tea Party-aligned Chris McDaniel's (R) 17 percent in the all-party primary.

In the final weeks of the runoff, Ms Hyde-Smith's campaign said the remark about making voting hard was a joke. And southern Democrats will continue to feel some frustration at their three strong but ultimately unsuccessful performances behind the historic statewide candidacies of African-Americans Espy, Stacey Abrams (Georgia gubernatorial nominee) and Andrew Gillum (Florida gubernatorial nominee). The state last elected a Democrat to the Senate in 1982. She's the first woman elected to the Senate from Mississippi.

Her victory means Republicans will hold a 53-47 majority in the new US Senate that convenes in January.

The race had appeared to narrow after comments the senator made rekindled memories of Mississippi's history of lynching blacks and voter suppression.

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In Tuesday's race, 59-year-old Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy, a former US agriculture secretary who hoped to become Mississippi's first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

I am hesitant to label anyone a racist given the complexities involved with determining a person's intent. Politico unearthed a 2014 post on Hyde-Smith's Facebook page that included a photo of her wearing a Confederate soldier's hat and holding a rifle during a visit to Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library in Biloxi.

She initially refused to apologize for the hanging remark, but said in a debate last week that she was sorry 'for anyone that was offended'.

Several companies that had donated to Hyde-Smith's campaign, including Walmart, publicly withdrew their support for the senator over the "public hanging" comment.

'Mississippians know me and they know my heart, ' she said. Yet I am sure that it is not our country's history, nor the state's history at its best.

On Friday, the Jackson Free Press reported that Hyde-Smith had attended a private high school that was founded in 1970 so that white parents could avoid attempts to integrate public schools. "She wasn't trying to send any messages". The furor sparked by the comment led to a number of corporate donors to demand refunds of campaign donations to the appointed incumbent.

Given the fact that Hyde-Smith's victory only further cements the reality of a divided legislature, Democrats would be wise to move on and prepare for what is sure to be a contentious 116th Congress.