BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On November 6, voters will go to the polls and elect a senator to replace Thad Cochran, who retired earlier this year. The lone Democrat on the ballot, Mike Espy, faces an uphill battle in a state dominated by the Republican party.
The Mississippi Black Caucus of local elected officials invited Senate candidate Mike Espy to its annual conference to talk about his candidacy and issues in the race.
Espy, 64, served as the congressman for Mississippi's second district from 1987 to 1993. President Clinton picked him as Agriculture Secretary in 1993. For the last 20 years, he's been practicing law in Jackson.
"At 29 years old, I was fortunate enough to be elected as a member of Congress, the first African American to do so since the civil war. I was appointed to be the first African American to head the Department of Agriculture," said Espy.
Espy will be on the ballot in November's special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Thad Cochran. Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, appointed to the seat by Governor Bryant, and State Senator Chris McDaniel are running as Republicans.
Espy said he will be a moderate voice in a political world dominated by partisanship.
"I don't care about your race, gender, religion or your sexual orientation or disability. If you're a Mississippian, I'll work with you," Espy said.
Democrats in the state are hoping for a blue wave in 2018. They think a Democrat has a chance and turnout is key in this election cycle.
"I think if we get people voting on a consistent basis it encourages them not to miss any votes," according to State Representative Sonja Williams Barnes. "I think Mississippi is ready for change and I think Democrats are ready to do their job."
Espy said, if elected, his motto as a U.S. Senator will be "Put Mississippi First."
"Whoever makes a proposal that we believe is right for Mississippi, that's where I'm going to be. If someone makes a proposal that's wrong for Mississippi, I'm not going there," Espy said.
Mike Espy currently serves as Chairmen of Hope Enterprise, a community development institution dedicated to giving people financial capacity.