GOP US Sen. Hyde-Smith wins divisive runoff in Mississippi, keeps seat

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Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has won a divisive Mississippi runoff to remain in office.

In Tuesday’s race, 59-year-old Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy, a former U.S. agriculture secretary who hoped to become Mississippi’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.    

The win allows Hyde-Smith to complete the final two years of Sen. Thad Cochran’s six-year term. Cochran retired in April. Hyde-Smith was appointed to temporarily succeed him.    

The win makes her the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.

The runoff was rocked by a video showing her praise a supporter by saying she’d attend a “public hanging” if he invited her. She called it an “exaggerated expression of regard.” The comment made Mississippi’s history of racist lynchings a runoff theme.

President Donald Trump endorsed Hyde-Smith and rallied for her after the comments became public.

Republicans will now hold 53 of 100 Senate seats.

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