MS-Sen: Running Scared, Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) Backtracks On Debating Mike Espy (D)

Doesn’t sound like a safe incumbent to me:

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Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who less than a week ago said she “wouldn’t mind” debating Democratic challenger Mike Espy, said on Wednesday evening a debate is “the last thing I’m worried about.”

Espy has accepted two debate invitations and has publicly chided Hyde-Smith for not doing the same.

“There is just such stark differences,” Hyde-Smith told WJTV on Wednesday. “So why would such stark differences, so much emphasis being put on a debate — if it was, if we were so close and people really wanted to hear, Mike Espy would be the most liberal candidate we’ve ever had in Mississippi. I’m a proven conservative, so, you know, I don’t think a lot of minds would be changed.”

She knows that a debate with Espy would be bad news for her. Especially since Espy’s campaign has gained serious momentum:

The newfound attention on Espy comes after his campaign announced this week it brought in $4 million in the third quarter of 2020. Hyde-Smith hasn’t released her third-quarter fundraising yet but in the second quarter she brought in $212,000 to Espy’s $610,000. Meanwhile, a poll released by the Tyson Group last month showed Espy trailing Hyde-Smith by just 1 point.

National groups have since turned their attention to the race. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) have provided field and organization assistance after Espy complained last month that his campaign was being overlooked by the party’s national apparatus.

Espy said last week he took part in a national fundraising call focused solely on his race with the DNC. The DSCC gave the maximum direct donation of $49,000 to Espy’s campaign on Sept. 1 and recently organized a phone bank for the campaign.

Additionally, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent out a fundraising email on behalf of Espy earlier this week, while the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican group, announced last week they planned to support Espy.

Espy has been making the case that Democrats can win in Mississippi by investing in turning out black voters:

But Espy pointed out that in Mississippi, it should be easier for Democrats to win elections because of how many Black voters live here.

“I want votes from everyone,” he said. “I’m the candidate who wants votes from everyone irrespective of race. But you have to look and see historically where those votes will come from.

“Because our Black population is so large, our campaign has a lower threshold for white voters,” he added. Espy will need record turnout from Black voters to win.

“There’s been a legacy of disinvestment of those in Washington who now believe a Black man can’t win,” he said. Espy believes that if the national party put more money “into political organizations to build infrastructure, we would already have a Democratic senator and governor.”

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