Nooses Hung At Mississippi State Capitol Just Before Runoff Election

Mike Espy

Instead, the race has been upended in the final days thanks to multiple stumbles by the GOP nominee that have dredged up the state's history of racial violence. Earlier this year, two Trump aides implored Gov. Phil Bryant to appoint someone else to the seat following the retirement of longtime Republican Sen.

Espy was seeking to become the first black senator for MS since Reconstruction in the post-Civil War era.

Photographs from 2014 have surfaced of Hyde-Smith posing with artifacts from the Confederate south, which supported slavery during the 19th C Civil War.

The election became more competitive after a video emerged earlier this month of Ms Hyde-Smith telling a supporter: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row".

That choice of words evoked grim memories for many.

The department posted photos of the signs on social media and sought information about them from the public. Black voting groups are working to turn out voters in the wake of her statements. Trump won 58 per cent of the state's vote in 2016, and Hyde-Smith has tied herself closely to his presidency. Hyde-Smith said the comment had been twisted and turned into "a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent".

She said Hyde-Smith's remark about hanging "revealed to a lot of people that MS still has a long way to go". But the political action committees of major corporations have pulled their support and asked for their donations back, including Walmart, AT&T, Pfizer and Major League Baseball.

Google has quietly joined other high-profile companies in requesting its campaign contributions to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith be returned after the MS politician's "public hanging" remark drew widespread criticism, according to Popular Information reporter Judd Legum. No surprise there. To see her full videos, flip page.

Donald Trump during a rally for Cindy Hyde-Smith
Donald Trump during a rally for Cindy Hyde Smith

Trump predicted a big day on Tuesday for Hyde-Smith and the Republican Party.

There were also reports in the local MS newspapers that Hyde-Smith had attended a "segregation academy" as a high school student, one of many such institutions established after court-ordered school integration finally came to the state in 1969. She also sent her daughter to a similar school.

Pence joined Trump for the Biloxi rally, declaring Espy too liberal for the state of Mississippi. He remains popular there, and carried the state by 18 points in 2016.

Rock and roll legend Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, where the president held the first of two rallies to boost Republican Sen. "It's given our state another black eye that we don't need".

At the debate with Hyde-Smith, Espy embraced the slogan "Mississippi first", a transparent tribute to Trump, declaring, "Mississippi first means I value MS over everything else - over party, over persons, over everybody". Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., taking the podium to tell the audience she helped the president and Senate Republicans in the partisan contest over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's nomination.

Ms Hyde-Smith's campaign meanwhile has critiqued Mr Espy's lobbying work and affiliations with an Ivory Coast dictator. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and "the legendary Maxine Waters", drawing resounding boos - even though Trump has said that Pelosi deserves to become the next House speaker and that he could even find Republican members to vote for her.

Espy is hoping for an upset in the election, and many Democrats have taken an interest in the race across the nation.

"We don't want to have an Alabama", he added, referring to Republican Roy Moore's 2017 loss to Democrat Doug Jones in a special Senate election in the deep-red state. That would give them a 53-47 seat advantage, still slim in a chamber where it often takes 60 votes to advance legislation.

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