Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi Senate race after joking about lynching

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Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith won Mississippi's special election runoff for the US Senate late Tuesday.

Espy followed the strategy of moderation that now-Sen.

Hyde-Smith, 59, is the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.

U.S. President Donald Trump had said at the Biloxi campaign rally on November 26 that illegal immigrants, such as those participating in the caravans between Mexico and the United States, are unfairly disadvantaging American workers. 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.

While Espy didn't win, the strategy of moderation that he and Jones followed is one Democrats must continue if they hope for the party to become less toxic in rural areas. She is the first woman to hold a Senate seat in the state - and is now the first woman elected to the Senate in Mississippi.

In the aftermath of the video, Republicans anxious they could face a repeat of last year's special election in Alabama, in which a flawed Republican candidate handed the Democrats a reliable Republican Senate seat in the Deep South. 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 offered a brief apology to anyone who may have been offended.

Hyde-Smith was in her second term as MS agriculture commissioner when Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to temporarily succeed GOP Sen. Ultimately, the lack of a more honest apology, and the questions surrounding why Hyde-Smith would make the comment in the first place - especially in light of Mississippi's bleak history of public hangings of black Americans - is deeply troubling.

I am hesitant to label anyone a racist given the complexities involved with determining a person's intent. "Her words should not reflect Mississippi's values, either", a narrator said in one ad. She initially called the public hanging remark "an exaggerated expression of regard".

Additionally, when Hyde-Smith was in school she attended a whites-only segregated academy, set up by parents to avoid racially integrated schools.

The "public hanging" comment also resonated with his supporters. Hyde-Smith's daughter later attended a similar private school established around the same time, according to the Free Press.

To be sure, Confederate history is American history, and in this case, MS history. The furor sparked by the comment led to a number of corporate donors to demand refunds of campaign donations to the appointed incumbent.

Hyde-Smith won the election on a variety of promises including lower taxes, lighter regulations, protecting the life of unborn babies, and better support for the military, police, and war veterans.

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