MISSISSIPPI
     Nov. 6, 2018 Senate Open Primary...Nov. 27 Runoff

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Nov. 27, 2018 Runoff
+Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) i
486,769
53.63%
Mike Espy (D)
420,819
46.37%

907,588

Plurality:  65,950 votes (7.26 percentage points).

 Nov. 6, 2018 Open Primary
+Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) i
389,995
41.25%
+Mike Espy (D)
385,742
40.90%
Chris McDaniel (R)
154,878
16.38%
Toby Bartee (D)
13,852
1.47%

945,467


 MS Secretary of State




Notes: Sen. Thad Cochran (R) announced on Mar. 5, 2018 that he would resign effective April 1.  Gov. Phil Bryant (R) appointed Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith to replace him.  Hyde-Smith faced three challengers in the open primary: state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), who challenged Cochran in 2014, and finished ahead in the primary but lost in the runoff; former congressman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy (D); and Tobey Bartee (I). 

McDaniel, from Ellisville, started out running against Sen. Wicker but subsequently switched to this seat; he branded himself as an "America First constitutional conservative" and pointed out that Hyde-Smith is a former Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton in 2008.  Nonetheless, on Aug. 23 President Trump endorsed Hyde-Smith, greatly damaging McDaniel's prospects.  Trump rallied with Hyde-Smith on Oct. 2 at Southaven in northern Mississippi.  Hyde-Smith resisted pressure to debate in the primary.

Hyde-Smith and Espy advanced to the Nov. 27 runoff.  Starting on Nov. 11, Hyde-Smith endured significant criticism after a blogger posted a Nov. 2 video clip from campaign event where she stood next to a supporter and stated that, "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row (+)."  The video went viral; Hyde-Smith responded with a 42-word statement defending what she said was "an exaggerated expression of regard."  The controversy simmered for a week; several corporations including Walmart requested refunds of their contributions.  On Nov. 20 the two candidates engaged in debate sponsored by the Mississippi Farm Bureau and broadcast by WLOX (+).  During the debate, Hyde-Smith addressed the controversy more directly, apologizing to anyone who was offended, and stating, "There was no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my
statements."  Further, she said, the comment "was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me." 

Espy was not immune from criticism.  The Hyde-Smith campaign highlighted "Mike Espy's record of corruption and taking $750,000 - and lying about it - from an African dictator now charged with war crimes, including murder, rape and torture."
  The RNC described Espy as "a corrupt former lobbyist who is too liberal for Mississippi."

Despite the controversy, Hyde-Smith had the upper hand.  The last time Mississippi elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate from Mississippi was Sen. John Stennis, who started in office in 1947 and was re-elected in 1982, retiring at the end of his term in Jan. 1989.  To seal the deal Trump  held rallies with Hyde-Smith in Tupelo and Biloxi on Nov. 26. 

See: Peter J. Boyer.  "The Last Insurgent "  The Weekly Standard, June 25, 2018.

Campaign Managers:
Cindy Hyde-Smith:  Jordan Russell
Communications director at Reclaim America PAC, Marco Rubio for Senate from Aug. 2017.  Director of communications at Strategic Partners & Media, April 2016-Aug. 2017.  Communications staff on Marco Rubio for President, Jan.-Mar. 2016.  Senior advisor to the Opportunity and Freedom PAC, Mar.-Sept. 2015.  Press secretary to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, Jan.-Mar. 2015.  Communications director on Citizens for Cochran, Jan.-Dec. 2014.  Communications director (Nov. 2011-Dec. 2013), legislative assistant (June-Oct. 2011) and constituent services liaison (Jan.-May 2011) to U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (MS).  B.A. in political science from University of Mississippi, 2009.

Mike Espy: 
Oleta Fitzgerald
Director of the Children's Defense Fund's Southern Regional Office.  Director of intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture under Sec. Espy.  Worked on the Clinton campaign in 1992.  District director to U.S. Rep. Espy from 1987.  Project director for the Southern Regional Council from 1982.  outhern director for the Children’s Foundation from 1976.  Worked for the Southeastern Public Education Program of the American Friends Service Committee, based in Atlanta. B.A. in sociology from Tougaloo College.

 






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