One of the big contests still undecided after election night is the race for senator in Mississippi, and a controversial new video is getting a lot of attention ahead of the Nov. 27 runoff. In the video, GOP incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith is seen campaigning with a supporter in Tupelo, and she says, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row," reports Mississippi Today. Hyde-Smith is now taking criticism given that she's a white lawmaker running against a black challenger, Mike Espy, in a Southern state. But she says the criticism is overblown: “In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous."
The campaign of Espy, a former congressman and agriculture secretary, calls the remarks "reprehensible," reports Politico. "They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country." NAACP chief Derrick Johnston voiced a similar sentiment, calling the joke "sick" and adding, "any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better." Hyde-Smith was appointed to office in April to fill the seat of longtime Sen. Thad Cochran, who retired. She and Espy were the top two finishers in the special election to serve out the final two years of Cochran's term, but because neither got 50% of the vote, a runoff is necessary. (A voter in Mississippi lost his job because of the shirt he wore to the voting booth.)