Cindy Hyde-Smith, the incumbent Senator from Mississippi who recently declared that if a fellow Republican "invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," has been running away from her own words ever since.
"I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous," Hyde-Smith said in a statement over the weekend. Then, in a Monday press conference, she repeatedly declared "I put out a statement yesterday, and we stand by that statement, and that's all I'm going to say about it," refusing to elaborate any further.
But Mississippi, which has the darkest history of lynching violence against African Americans of any state in the nation, will not be able to forget Hyde-Smith's words before the US Senate runoff is held on November 27th. The Democratic Coalition is crowdfunding billboards all across the state to keep the issue front and center.
“Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson tells Roll Call.
To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful. Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character.
Although Hyde-Smith had a narrow lead over her Democratic opponent, African American Mike Espy, neither candidate claimed more than 50 percent of the vote last Tuesday, so there will be a runoff on November 27th.
Does Espy have a chance in a deeply-red state? Republicans are not eager to find out. Instead, they are pumping millions of dollars into TV advertising and planning a Trump rally to shore up support for a Senate seat that should have been completely safe.
National Democrats, who had seen the race as a very unlikely pickup, suddenly sense an opportunity: even if Espy does not win, they can make Republicans spend far too much money on a "safe" seat.
While is unlikely that Hyde-Smith's flippant remarks will hurt her at all with deplorables in red MAGA hats, it is also very likely to motivate Espy's voters. That's important, because the key to winning in special and runoff elections is to turn out your own supporters. That's how Doug Jones won a Senate seat in neighboring Alabama and it's how Stacey Abrams still hopes to become Georgia's governor.
The Democratic Coalition is accepting donations for their billboards at ActBlue.
Help us put this billboard up all over Mississippi https://t.co/IeRyMPhHk1
— Matt Osborne (@OsborneInk) November 15, 2018