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MS-Sen: GQ, “How a Democrat Could Swipe a Senate Seat in Deep-Red Mississippi”

3 min read

GQ has a great piece out about the upcoming runoff election in Mississippi between U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R. MS) and Mike Espy (D. MS). The piece highlights her idiotic, racist dog whistling “lynch mob” remark and how that could hurt her. The piece also highlights the differences and similarities between this race and last year’s U.S. Senate race in Alabama:

Cindy Hyde-Smith is not Roy Moore, and racist language, as disgusting as it is, does not inspire the same brand of universal revulsion as does child predation. But in a world in which someone with a (D) next to their name can win an honest-to-God Senate seat in Alabama, and after Democrats won control of a deeply-gerrymandered House by winning in both toss-up and long-shot districts, no outcome can be ruled out anymore. Besides, like Moore, Hyde-Smith is a weak candidate, albeit for different reasons: She was a Democrat for the first decade of her political career before switching parties in 2010, a dubious history that factored in to President Trump's decision to withhold his support until the end of the campaign. And despite her strident efforts to tie herself to Trump, the presence of paleo-bigot Republican Chris McDaniel in Election Day's jungle primary—he finished with about 16 percent of the vote—helped prevent her from getting the kind of traction she needed to win a contest which, frankly, she should have been able to walk away with.

Espy, meanwhile, is about as viable as a Democratic candidate gets in the Deep South: In 1986, he became Mississippi's first black representative since Reconstruction, and went on to win three reelection campaigns. Beginning in 1992, he served for several years as President Clinton's Secretary of Agriculture before resigning over one of those “gift-giving investigations” that qualified as scandalous back in the mid-90s and now just describes day-to-day governance in the White House. (He was acquitted of all charges.)

Here’s another good snippet:

The odds are still, to put it charitably, long. Espy finished less that one point behind Hyde-Smith, but McDaniel was the only other candidate to put up any numbers of note. If you assume that McDaniel supporters begrudgingly line up behind Hyde-Smith once they have no other Republican choice, she cruises to victory in the runoff. But if Hyde-Smith is not exactly beloved in the state, and her conduct on the campaign trail is doing her candidacy no favors. If some McDaniel people find her to be insufficiently MAGA-ish for their tastes, and decide to just stay home on November 27? And if Espy can chip away at the state's built-in partisan disadvantage by getting more people than usual to the polls, just like Jones did a year ago? Then maybe. Maybe.

Here is some interesting math: Between the two primaries in Alabama in 2017, Republicans earned almost 75 percent of the total number of voters. Last week, Hyde-Smith and McDaniel combined for only 58 percent in Mississippi. If Jones can come away with a Senate seat in the first scenario, Espy has a fighting chance of doing so in the second one—which means that Hyde-Smith would be well-advised to cut down on the casual racism sooner rather than later.

Hyde-Smith gave us an opening and we need to capitalize on it. Click here to donate and get involved with Espy’s campaign.

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