Tags: 2018 Midterm Elections | mississippihyde | smith | race | espy | segregated

Miss. Burning: Will Race-Based Attacks on Hyde-Smith Tip Race to Dems?

cindy hyde-smith speaks at a rally with president donald trump
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith stands on stage with US President Donald Trump at a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018.  (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sunday, 25 November 2018 07:48 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With 48 hours to go before Mississippi voters decide the last major race of 2018, the major question is whether final attacks involving alleged racial insensitivity will be enough to unseat Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith?

Hyde-Smith, the Magnolia State’s first woman in Congress, came under recent heavy fire from Democratic opponent Mike Espy for praising a friend by saying they were so close she would attend a “public hanging” with him if asked.

Given that onetime Secretary of Agriculture Espy is black and Mississippi’s population is roughly 38 percent black, the resulting blasts from Democrats and the liberal press over Hyde-Smith’s colloquialism boosted his candidacy in a state that last elected a Democratic senator in 1982.

“It moved the needle [toward Espy],” said Geoff Pender, political columnist for the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, noting that Mississippi had the highest number among Southern states of lynching blacks during the 20th Century.

On Friday and Saturday, critical press reports appeared highlighting Hyde-Smith as a student at the Lawrence County Academy — one of the “segregated schools” white parents founded in the 1970’s to keep their children from being sent to integrated public schools with black children.

This is not uncommon among Mississippians of Hyde-Smith’s age (59). The parents of Gov. Phil Bryant, 63, sent him to one of the seven renegade schools that were all-white.

“Hyde-Smith hasn’t shied away from Confederacy,” blared a Page One headline in the Washington Post Saturday. The story recounted how Hyde-Smith, while a freshman state senator (and a Democrat) in 2001, proposed legislation to rename a stretch of highway to its name in the 1930’s: the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, after the Confederate president (who was previously U.S. Senator from Mississippi).

“I think [Hyde-Smith] will win, but it’s not out of the question Espy can win,” former Republican State Rep. Ken Stribling told Newsmax.

He added that Espy could easily follow the same path as Democrat Doug Jones when he won the much-watched special election for U.S. Senate in Alabama in 2017. Combined with a turnout in many black precincts exceeding that for Barack Obama in 2012, Jones’ support among “New South Democrats”— who embrace racial harmony and dislike celebrating the Confederate past — was enough for him to defeat controversial Republican Roy Moore.

Hyde-Smith does not, of course, share the controversy that surrounded Moore, whose alleged pursuit of teenage girls while a young lawyer dominated the campaign. But, as Stribling put it, “there is definitely a very motivated Democratic vote and that is showing up with high early/absentee voting so far, especially in African American precincts. The Democrats are more organized here this year than I’ve seen in two decades. Those facts give Secretary Espy a fighting chance.”

When veteran GOP Sen. Thad Cochran resigned earlier this year, then-State Agriculture Commissioner Hyde-Smith was appointed to his seat. In the initial free-for-all contest on November 6, Hyde-Smith and Espy got roughly 41 percent of the vote each and Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel placed third with 16 percent. McDaniel, who ran to the right of Hyde-Smith, has strongly endorsed her in the runoff.

“The Democratic campaign is clearly aimed at the African-American vote and that’s significant,” said veteran elections analyst Jay O’Callaghan, “But President Trump and McDaniel will get out the conservative vote for Hyde-Smith and Mississippi is still a conservative state.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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With 48 hours to go before Mississippi voters decide the last race of 2018, the major question is whether final attacks involving alleged racial insensitivity will be enough to unseat Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith?Hyde-Smith, the Magnolia State's first woman in Congress,...
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Sunday, 25 November 2018 07:48 AM
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