Hyde-Smith Defeats Espy in Mississippi Senate Race

Despite Offensive Comments, Incumbent Victorious


Photo courtesy of Salem News

Millions of Americans went out to their local polling stations to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, on Tuesday, November 6. The votes were counted, and 508 governors, representatives, and senators were elected into office.

But on Tuesday, November 27th, Mississippi voters decided on the 509th elected official through a runoff senatorial election between Democrat Mike Espy and incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith. Mississippians reelected Hyde-Smith, who won with by eight percent of the votes. The runoff occurred because candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote on election day on November 6.

Hyde-Smith faced controversy after making an offensive comment in a video released on Twitter in which she said, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” referring to a member of the crowd.

Hyde-Smith also posted a picture of her touring the president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis’s house with the caption, “Mississippi history at its best!” It wasn’t until a week ago that Hyde-Smith finally issued an apology, but she then blamed Espy for twisting her words around on her, despite full video footage of her remarks showing that they were not taken out of context.

Due to these controversial events, support for Espy rose significantly, to the point where he came within single digits of Hyde-Smith. Unfortunately, Hyde-Smith’s offensive comments were not enough for Espy, and on Tuesday he lost to Hyde-Smith.

Upper school history teacher Andrew Bigelow was disheartened by the outcome of this election, though not exactly surprised by the results. “I am deeply saddened that a person who has no concept of implicit and explicit bias has won the US Senate seat,” Bigelow said.

Bigelow feels that there were signs that the Democrats did not have that big of a chance in winning this election. “Sadly, given steps taken to dismantle voting rights at the state level and by SCOTUS in Citizens United,” Bigelow said, “the cards were stacked against the Democrats in this state.”

Bigelow also feels that the victory of Roger Wicker, Mississippi’s other senator who won his seat on Election day, may have affected the results of this election. There was a candidate who was even further to the right, and he had Trump support in the primary,” Bigelow said. “I knew that his supporters would fall into line under Hyde-Smith.”  

Bigelow thinks that Mississippi has a long way to go to distance itself from their past. “Unlike Alabama who has embraced their history in many ways, one being the numerous museums and memorials to their horrific past and current events,” Bigelow said, “Mississippi is just getting started.”  

Bigelow also thinks that there are steps Mississippi can take for the future. “The truth and reconciliation process has barely begun in Mississippi,” Bigelow said. “Until the leaders of this state understand the impact of the history of legalized segregation, mass incarceration, and violence, they can’t even begin to start to unravel the consequences of their history.”