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Cindy Hyde-Smith pulled off a victory in the Mississippi runoff election for U.S. Senate, the Associated Press reports. The Republican, who was appointed to replace Sen. Thad Cochran in April, ran against Democrat Mike Espy.
Hyde-Smith was embroiled in controversy ahead of the runoff, drawing national attention to what was previously a quiet special election. She came under criticism for a statement about lynching she made at a campaign event on Nov. 2.
“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” she said of a supporter who had invited her to a speaking engagement.
The comment outraged people on social media and led a number of donors to Hyde-Smith’s campaign, including Walmart and Google, to ask for refunds of their donations. Meanwhile, some of her old Facebook photos resurfaced, showing Hyde-Smith wearing a Confederate hat and holding a rifle at the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library in 2014.
The Mississippi race had given a glimmer of hope to Democrats, who despite wins for women of color and LGBTQ candidates in the 2018 midterms were still disappointed by major losses in Texas and Florida.
Hyde-Smith’s win ensures a strong Senate majority for Republicans, who will hold 53 seats next year. Democrats will hold 47.
Kris Seavers is the IRL editor for the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.