Hyde-Smith defeats Espy in Senate runoff election

Hyde-Smith defeats Espy in Senate runoff election

With 76 percent of precincts reporting, Hyde-Smith led former Democratic Rep. Her campaign said it was a joke, but that explanation backfired when the black student seen laughing in a picture from the event her campaign posted on Twitter responded that Hyde-Smith's campaign was using him as a prop.

Hyde-Smith was the state's agriculture commissioner and a MS state senator. National Republicans alone had spent almost $3 million here by Tuesday.

All of that helped the former state agriculture commissioner boring Espy's efforts to paint her as someone who would take the state backwards.

The victory of Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to fill the seat of Sen. Hyde-Smith will serve in the seat until 2020, the end of the six-year term Cochran won in 2014.

Tuesday's victor will fill the last two years of the term of longtime Republican senator Thad Cochran, who resigned because of health problems, and have to run again in 2020.

Hyde-Smith's campaign hammered Espy for his $750,000 lobbying contract in 2011 with the Cocoa and Coffee Board of the Ivory Coast.

If white voters outnumber black voters 2-to-1 on Tuesday, Espy would have to win 30 percent or more of white votes, a tough task in a state with possibly the most racially polarized electorate in the country.

It began when video emerged online of her telling supporters earlier this month that she'd be "on the front row" if one of her supporters "invited me to a public hanging". Espy, who is black, called her comments "reprehensible".

She was projected by the Associated Press and NBC News to have defeated Democrat Mike Espy, a former congressman and Agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton.




Espy, 64, replied: "I don't know what's in your heart, but I know what came out of your mouth".

Some corporate donors, including Walmart, requested refunds on their campaign contributions to Hyde-Smith after the videos surfaced.

Espy says he called Hyde-Smith to congratulate her and that she has his prayers.

Espy also faced his own controversial history. Hyde-Smith won 61% of the vote in her prior statewide race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.

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.

Asked about her remark in a debate, Hyde-Smith said she would "certainly apologize" to anyone who was offended, but then pivoted to an attack on her opponent.

Espy, who was attempting to become the state's first African-American senator since Reconstruction, ran the most competitive Democratic campaign in decades but fell short in his efforts to bring historic numbers of black voters to the polls. Doug Jones successfully employed last year in Alabama to become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from that state in 25 years.

But even that wasn't enough to overcome the odds of running as a Democrat in a deep-red state. The outcome gives Republicans a 53-to-47 majority in the Senate, while Democrats will take control of the House after gaining at least 39 seats.

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