Good Evening Birdies,
Today is the last of the federal elections (as far as I know) and it’s down to the wire at the polling stations, which are supposed to close around 7ET/6CT/5MT/5PT.
The runoff is between Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith (selected earlier this year by the governor upon the retirement of Thad Cochran) and Democratic candidate Mike Espy.
(photo courtesy of Axios)
NYT provides the broad particulars:
Ms. Hyde-Smith, a former Democrat who was Mississippi’s agriculture commissioner until her appointment to the Senate, has faced a rocky inaugural year in national politics. The White House questioned the political wisdom of installing her in Mr. Cochran’s seat — and that was before Ms. Hyde-Smith drew sustained scorn for comments that were criticized as racist or anti-democratic.
In one instance, Ms. Hyde-Smith said that if a supporter invited her “to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” a remark with painful resonance in a state with a history of racist violence, including lynchings. (On Monday morning, state officials said, two nooses were found hanging on the grounds of the State Capitol. Mr. Bryant has asked the F.B.I. to participate in the inquiry.)
In another recorded episode, Ms. Hyde-Smith said there were liberals “maybe we don’t want to vote.”
“Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult,” she said.
Mr. Espy, who would be Mississippi’s first black senator since Reconstruction, is hardly a newcomer to Washington, and Republicans sought to turn his record in the capital into a cudgel. They have pointed to his lucrative lobbying work, including a stint in service of an Ivorian dictator who is now on trial before the International Criminal Court, to depict Mr. Espy as out-of-touch and lacking in judgment. And the memory of Mr. Espy’s corruption trial, after several terms in Congress and years as President Bill Clinton’s agriculture secretary, has never been far from mind. (Mr. Espy was acquitted of all charges.)
The polls have the incumbent about 10 points ahead, but due to the senator’s hot mike comments, Mr. Epsy has mounted a vigorous campaign and has lowered the ratings from 14 points in October.
Mr. Espy’s ambitions rest on a robust turnout from black Mississippians, who represent about 36 percent of the voting-age population and usually side with Democratic candidates in large numbers. But to win Mr. Espy must also capture about a quarter of the white vote — a tall order given his performance in the first round of voting on Nov. 6, and how political lines often fall along racial ones in Mississippi.
In a strategy that could attract some white voters, Mr. Espy appealed to Mississippi’s perpetual disgruntlement with how it is perceived across the country and argued that a victory by Ms. Hyde-Smith would reinforce stereotypes of the state.
Deval Patrick, Cory Booker and Ayanna Pressley have been down to the state to campaign for Epsy and to GOTV. What’s interesting is that the DSCC has not played any financial or prominent role in this race.
You can follow the results at the NYT here; Politico’s reporting here; or the Clarion-Ledger’s here.
What does this mean for the Senate? If Hyde-Smith retains the seat, she will be the 53rd Republican and with any vote to come up requiring 51 votes, she’s likely to vote with her party as she has a 100% voting record aligned with Trump’s agenda.
This serves as an open thread. Updates as we get them. I will be ordering pizza for carry out.
9:25 CT update: