Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated Democratic challenger Mike Espy in a runoff election for U.S. Senate in Mississippi, following accusations of racist comments, CBS News reports.
Hyde-Smith garnered 53.9 percent of the vote to Espy’s 46.1 percent. Her victory extended the Republican Party’s numbers in the Senate to 53; the Democrats have 47.
“This win tonight, this victory, it’s about our conservative values,” Hyde-Smith said at her victory party in Jackson on Tuesday night. “It’s about the things that mean the most to all of us Mississippians: Our faith, our family. But it’s those things that I will take to Washington, D.C., that I want to represent all of Mississippians with these values. And I will fight for it, I assure you, every single day. I am your warrior.”
The incumbent senator, who was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant earlier this year following the resignation of Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, was embroiled in controversy over comments that were deemed racist.
On Nov. 2, Hyde-Smith was campaigning with cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson where she remarked public hangings.
“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” she said in a video posted by a Mississippi blogger.
"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row"- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith says in Tupelo, MS after Colin Hutchinson, cattle rancher, praises her.
Hyde-Smith is in a runoff on Nov 27th against Mike Espy. pic.twitter.com/0a9jOEjokr
— Lamar White, Jr. (@LamarWhiteJr) November 11, 2018
Hyde-Smith downplayed her comment, saying that it was an “exaggerated expression of regard.”
Photos from 2014 that were posted on the senator’s Facebook page showed her posing with Confederate artifacts circulated a few days before the election. She captioned her post saying,” Mississippi history at its best!” writes CBS News.
Espy, who was the country’s first African-American agriculture secretary, conceded on Tuesday and said he wants to help the state progress.
“While this is not the result we were hoping for, I am proud of the historic campaign we ran and grateful for the support we received across Mississippi,” the Democrat said.
President Donald Trump, who held two campaign rallies for Hyde-Smith on Monday, congratulated her on Twitter.
“Congratulations to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on your big WIN in the Great State of Mississippi. We are all very proud of you!” he wrote.