Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith won a U.S. Senate special election runoff in conservative MS on Tuesday, U.S. media projected, defeating a black challenger after a campaign that recalled the state's history of racist violence.
The controversies surrounding her set off a major push by national Republicans to avoid the same embarrassment they'd suffered a year ago in Alabama over the Senate campaign of Roy Moore and save Hyde-Smith.
Cindy Hyde-Smith beat the African-American Democratic candidate Mike Espy with an estimated 55% share of the vote. Cindy Hyde-Smith returns to Washington as a solidly loyal Trump supporter after the president stumped for her in what was a divisive runoff marked by racial turmoil over a video-recorded remark Hyde-Smith made decried as racist. A separate video showed her talking about "liberal folks" and making it "just a little more difficult" for them to vote. He tried to recreate the coalition that propelled Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate win in neighbouring Alabama previous year by energizing black voters, particularly women, and winning support from white swing voters.
Hyde-Smith's comments prompted deeper dives into her history.
'Mississippians know me and they know my heart, ' she said.
Hyde-Smith's victory may seem vexing to many, given her beliefs and behaviors, especially considering that the people of MS had a more moderate alternative in Espy.
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The result gives Senate Republicans a 53-47 majority for the next term of Congress - and more breathing room to confirm President Trump's appointees to the federal bench, a top priority of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). 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.
Espy, 64, campaigned as a moderate who would work with Trump and Republicans to benefit the state.
"So many things are taken out of context", said Elizabeth Gallinghouse, 84, from Diamondhead, Mississippi. She said the "public hanging" comment was "an exaggerated expression of regard" for a fellow cattle rancher.
During a televised debate nine days after the video was publicised, she apologised to "anyone that was offended by my comments", but also said the remark was used as a "weapon" against her.
"Who went to a segregation academy", she continued, "I believe it's been reported, her daughter did or does, as well". The furor sparked by the comment led to a number of corporate donors to demand refunds of campaign donations to the appointed incumbent. Thad Cochran who announced his retirement back in March. There were four candidates on the ballot on November 6.
The Republicans pumped resources into Mississippi, and USA president Donald Trump made a strong effort on behalf of Ms Hyde-Smith, holding last-minute rallies in Mississippi on Monday. "We are all proud of you".