Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith won Mississippi’s Senate race against Democrat Mike Espy after joking about a “public hanging” in a state known for its lynchings.
Backlash against Hyde-Smith’s comments led to a number of organizations retracting their donations to her campaign, including Google and the Major League of Baseball.
Along with the joke in which the Republican said she’d attend a “public hanging” at the behest of a friend she admired, other facts about Hyde-Smith — including that she and her child both attended all-white schools sometimes referred to as “seg academies” — have made race a deciding factor in her runoff election against her black Democratic opponent.
A week before the runoff election to decide who would permanently fill the seat Hyde-Smith was appointed to after longtime Sen. Thad Cochran retired, a photo of the GOP candidate wearing Confederate garb and smiling resurfaced.
Hyde-Smith was also recorded earlier in November telling another joke in which she suggested liberals should have their votes suppressed.
“And then they remind me, that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote,” she said at a campaign stop.
During the fallout from her “public hanging” comment, Hyde-Smith agreed to debate Espy in a private room devoid of reporters.
After that debate, the Democrat said Hyde-Smith refused to look him in the eye while apologizing.