Cindy Hyde-Smith wins runoff for Senate seat in Mississippi

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Espy, a former cabinet member in the Clinton administration campaigned as a moderate who would work with Trump and Republicans to benefit the state.

Yet, Hyde-Smith's win and the (relatively small) size of it makes a lot of sense when put in the context of this election cycle. Cory Gardner, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

A Mississippi Republican who drew scorn for making racially insensitive comments managed to hold her U.S. Senate seat Tuesday in the final race of 2018, networks projected, avoiding what could have been an embarrassing setback for President Donald Trump.

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 outcome will not alter control of the Senate, but a Hyde-Smith win seals a 53-47 Republican majority in the chamber. Thad Cochran stepped down earlier this year.

Espy was a clear underdog in the runoff election to unseat Hyde-Smith, who was appointed by the governor to complete Cochran's term.

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She was supposed to enjoy an easy path to election following a November 6 primary that included her, Espy and conservative Republican firebrand Chris McDaniel.

This was a runoff election to fill the seat vacated by Sen.

Most notably, at a public campaign event, Hyde-Smith said that if a supporter invited her to "a public hanging, I'd be on the front row". She said it was "an exaggerated expression of regard". She at first refused to apologize, and only at last week's debate did she offer a conditional apology "to anyone offended".

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.

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

The furor sparked by the comment led to a number of corporate donors to demand refunds of campaign donations to the appointed incumbent.

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In 2014, Hyde-Smith posted a picture on Facebook of herself wearing a replica of a Confederate army hat. Over the weekend, the Jackson Free Press reported that Hyde-Smith had attended a segregated high school in the 1970s.

The same progressive blogger who published the video of her using the phrase "public hanging" later published one in which Hyde-Smith told a small group at Mississippi State University that suppressing the votes of students at other colleges was "a great thing". One TV ad from late last week name-drops Walmart, At&T and Union Pacific as companies that have pulled their support of her.

Hyde-Smith's campaign website describes her as a "rock-solid conservative". It has also reignited passions in a state with a dark history of racism. Hyde-Smith won 61% of the vote in her prior statewide race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.

Her comments brought more scrutiny to her campaign.

Because neither Hyde-Smith nor Espy garnered more than 50 percent of the vote on Election Day - both received slightly more than 40 percent -the race advanced to a runoff.

The remarks highlighted the racist lynchings that marred Mississippi's history, a fact her opponent was quick to point out.

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