Mississippi failed to deliver the Democrats an Alabama-style upset in the last race of the 2018 midterms. Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy and will serve the remaining two years of Sen. Thad Cochran's term. She is the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi, the Clarion-Ledger reports. If Espy had won, he would have been the first African American the state had elected to Congress since 1874, and the first Democratic senator elected in the state since 1982. The victory in the runoff gives Republicans control of 53 out of 100 seats in the Senate. Hyde-Smith had been widely expected to win, though the GOP had to pump funds into the state as the race narrowed in its final weeks.
Hyde-Smith stuck to a strategy of appealing to President Trump's core voters—and was rewarded for it, ABC reports. The president appeared at two of her rallies Monday night and she personally thanked him at her victory party Tuesday. "Mr. President, and I just talked to him so I know he's watching, thank you so much for everything," she said. The victory follows a divisive campaign that led to several corporate donors asking Hyde-Smith to return their donations, the AP reports. Hyde-Smith was recorded joking about attending a public hanging, and talking about making it "just a little more difficult" for "liberal folks" to vote. (She accused Espy of using the hanging remarks as a "weapon.")