National attention on Mississippi’s U.S. Senate race

Updated: Oct. 5, 2020 at 7:34 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The last time Cindy Hyde-Smith faced Mike Espy at the polls, she won with 54 percent of the votes. But Espy’s camp says it’s energized to build on the 46 percent he received in 2018. Now the race is garnering new attention, some of it from other parts of the country.

Over the weekend, Mike Espy picked up new support from the Lincoln Project. It’s a political action committee made up of current and former Republicans working against Donald Trump and his supporters in the Senate.

We wanted to find out how Mike Espy’s campaign plans to turn that attention into votes.

“The support that we’re seeing nationally is late," said Jared Turner, Democratic party Coordinated Campaign for Mississippi Director. "We’ve always seen the energy on the ground. It’s been organic. We got out and people want to see a change in our state. They want to see better schools. They want to see better health care, more opportunities for affordable health care. And so, we’ve always seen it.”

We asked Republican strategist Henry Barbour if the new support makes it harder for Cindy Hyde-Smith to win this go-around.

“There’s a lot of money coming in to help Mike Espy but I don’t think it changes things dramatically," noted Barbour. "All the money in the world can’t change the fact that Mississippians want somebody who’s conservative. Who’s going to vote for lower taxes, stronger military, good strong public safety, support of the police. And that’s Cindy Hyde-Smith.”

But Espy’s latest ad shows he’s working to attract some voters outside the Democratic party. He’s said he needs to increase black turnout by three percent and get four more percent of the white vote to defeat Hyde-Smith.

“Secretary Espy caught lightning in a bottle and he made a good showing in 2018," said Turner. "But the one thing that he hasn’t done is he hasn’t stopped working since then.”

Barbour notes that conservatives in the state are eager to go out and vote for President Trump and that, too, stands to benefit Hyde-Smith in a year where campaigns look very different.

“One thing that I don’t think has changed is the basic conservative views of Mississippians," added Barbour. "That hasn’t changed and that makes it difficult for Mike Espy to win.”

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