Thomas Graning / AP
The last race in the Senate in 2018 was to be a matter of sleep – a formality in reality, with a special second round of voting in Mississippi. Instead, the race was halted in the last days thanks to the GOP candidate's multiple difficulties, which laid the foundation for the history of racial violence in the state.
Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed to the post earlier this year after Thad Cochran, GOP's historic incumbent, resigned for health reasons. Although she remains the favorite of Tuesday's election, her missteps paved the way for former Democrat MP and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. If he were to win, Espy would become the first black senator of the state since Reconstruction.
Earlier this month, Hyde-Smith was filmed in video chatting with a fan. In an apparent effort to congratulate him, she told breeder Colin Hutchinson: "When he invited me to a public hanging, I would be in the forefront."
This choice of words evoked dark memories for many. Mississippi – where about 35% of the electorate is African-American – recorded the highest number of lynchings among all post-Civil War and Jim Crow states, according to the NAACP, and Racial tensions persist in some places. Black voting groups are working to convince voters following his statements.
Hyde-Smith largely avoided comments until her only debate with Espy last week, where she presented a near-excuse – saying that she was sorry for "anyone who was offended by my comments" and that She had intended to "not want to." But she also blamed Espy and the Democrats, claiming that her comments "were caught, twisted and used as a political weapon against me by my opponent".
Since the controversy, Hyde-Smith has remained out of the spotlight and refused to expand his comments or apologies. But the political action committees of the big companies have withdrawn their support and demanded the repayment of their donations, including Walmart, AT & T, Pfizer and Major League Baseball.
These comments are not the only ones that have raised questions about Hyde-Smith and race relations. Facebook's 2014 photos also surface and Hyde-Smith visited the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis with a caption: "The Mississippi Story at Its Best!"
As a senator, Senator Hyde-Smith "once promoted a measure hailing the efforts of a Confederate soldier to" defend his country "and pushed a revisionist vision of civil war" like "The war between states ", according to CNN.
And the Jackson Free Press reported over the weekend that Hyde-Smith had attended an all-white private school, one of many founded after the Supreme Court ordered schools to band together to circumvent the high court's mandate. to integrate public schools. She also sent her daughter to a similar school.
Trump made two pre-election stops in Mississippi on Monday to try to convince Republican voters of Hyde-Smith. It remains popular and has brought the state 18 points in 2016.
"I think it will be a big day for Cindy, but do not take any chances," Trump told the Tupelo crowd. "It's happened many times before, it never works well, suppose you have to vote."
Trump also warned that a Democrat victory from Espy could "reverse" the gains made by Republicans in the Senate earlier this month.
"We can not allow Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to come back on this win by winning the state of Mississippi," Trump said.
Hyde-Smith is hanging on Trump at every turn, browsing the state in a bus that has a large picture of two of them glued to the side. During last week's debate, she praised how she would support her agenda and voted for the priorities of her administration 100% of the time.
She also criticized Espy for his lobbying activities with former Cote d'Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo, who was charged with crimes against humanity. His campaign said that Espy ended the consultation because of Gbagbo's record.
Espy tried to capitalize on the comments and missteps of the Hyde-Smith race. In an advertisement, a narrator said, "We can not afford a senator who embarrasses us and reinforces the stereotypes for which we have worked so hard." And in last week's debate, he blamed her for "talking about public hangings and voter repression," saying, "I will not go back to yesterday."
Despite Mississippi's leaning propensities, Democrats only have to look from their home side to see the way to victory. Last year, Democrat Doug Jones managed to overthrow a Republican-controlled Senate seat in Alabama after Republican candidate Roy Moore was charged with sexual misconduct and sexual assault. dating back several decades. But even with these allegations weighing on Moore, Jones has only very narrowly dominated.
If Hyde-Smith prevails, the Republicans will have added a two-seat net to their Senate majority in January by beating Democratic incumbents in Florida, Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota, but losing seats held by the GOP in Arizona and Nevada. That would give them an advantage from 53 to 47 seats, still slim in a room where it often takes 60 votes to move a bill forward.
But if Espy manages to get angry, the Senate Republicans would win only one seat and end up with the same 52- to 48-seat majority they had held before the special elections held in Alabama last December.