Hyde-Smith keeps US Senate seat; Espy takes Warren County

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith became the first female ever elected to a U.S. Senate seat from Mississippi, defeating Democrat Mike Espy in a contentious runoff campaign that determined the last remaining midterm election.

The victory gave the GOP a firm majority in the U.S. Senate with Republicans now holding 53 of the 100 seats.

Espy, trying to become the first African American since Reconstruction to be voted to the U.S. Senate from Mississippi, took Warren County in his bid to unseat Hyde-Smith, a former state agriculture commissioner who was appointed to the position by Gov. Phil Bryant following the April retirement of Sen. Thad Cochran. The 59-year-old will finish out the final two years of the term Cochran began.

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The runoff was rocked by a video showing her praise a supporter by saying she’d attend a “public hanging” if he invited her. She called it an “exaggerated expression of regard.” The comment made Mississippi’s history of racist lynchings a runoff theme.

Hyde-Smith and Espy emerged from a field of four candidates Nov. 6 to advance to Tuesday’s runoff.

President Donald Trump endorsed Hyde-Smith and rallied for her after the comments became public.

Warren County favors Espy

Nearly 14,000 registered Warren County voters went to the polls with more than 7,000 voting for Espy, while more than 6,000 cast ballots for Hyde-Smith.

Unofficial results show Espy with 7,290 votes in Warren County, while Hyde-Smith took 6,356 votes in the county.

In the Court of Appeals District 2, Position 1 runoff race, Deborah McDonald won Warren County with 7,527 votes, while Eric Charles Hawkins was runner-up with 4,303 votes in the county.

In the special State House of Representatives District 85 race, Jo Ann Collins-Smith had 730 votes in Warren County, while Jeffery Harness had 669 votes in the county.

Approximately 600 Warren County affidavit ballots will be counted Wednesday, while approximately 200 absentee ballots were to be counted Tuesday night at the Warren County Courthouse.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.