Republicans Win Mississippi Senate Race Despite Media Blitz, Report Says

Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde Smith speaks during an election night party in Jackson Mississippi U.S

National Republicans alone had spent almost $3 million here by Tuesday.

The Republicans pumped resources into Mississippi, and USA president Donald Trump made a strong effort on behalf of Ms Hyde-Smith, holding last-minute rallies in Mississippi on Monday.

All of that helped the former state agriculture commissioner boring Espy's efforts to paint her as someone who would take the state backwards. The win capped off a tumultuous final few weeks of the campaign for Hyde-Smith who had a string of controversies, many of them touching on issues of race.

Polls show four-term State Attorney Jim Hood defeating any Republican hopeful and becoming the state's first Democratic governor in 16 years.

Tuesday's victor will fill the last two years of the term of longtime Republican senator Thad Cochran, who resigned because of health problems, and have to run again in 2020.

She was supposed to enjoy an easy path to election following a November 6 primary that included her, Espy and conservative Republican firebrand Chris McDaniel. Neither candidate had won the requisite 50 percent in the first round of the special election on Election Day. She initially called the public hanging remark "an exaggerated expression of regard".

Mississippi-which still has the Confederate battle emblem on its state flag-has a history of racially motivated lynchings.

"For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize".

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When asked to elaborate on her remarks, she added: "I'm a cowgirl, and when a cowgirl references western movies that I've seen hundreds of, and somebody twists it, that's just it, you've got to roll with the punches", reports ABC News.

Espy, 64, replied: "I don't know what's in your heart, but I know what came out of your mouth". Photos on her Facebook page from 2014 showed her wearing a Confederate soldier's hat during a tour of the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library.

Mr Trump tweeted: "Congratulations to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on your big WIN in the Great State of Mississippi". One TV ad from late last week name-drops Walmart, At&T and Union Pacific as companies that have pulled their support of her.

Republicans even privately acknowledged that Hyde-Smith mangled her response to the video, and it wasn't until a debate last week that she offered a qualified apology.

Espy also faced his own controversial history. "This is about the people of Mississippi, and what's important to the people of Mississippi", Hyde-Smith told a crowd of about 80 supporters at the Westin in Jackson on Tuesday night.

While Hyde-Smith largely stayed off the campaign trail, the party's infrastructure rallied to her defense.

Her victory follows a divisive campaign after a video recording was released early this month showing Ms Hyde-Smith telling a supporter she would happily attend a public hanging. The state could soon have its first elected female senator or first black senator since Reconstruction. And southern Democrats will continue to feel some frustration at their three strong but ultimately unsuccessful performances behind the historic statewide candidacies of African-Americans Espy, Stacey Abrams (Georgia gubernatorial nominee) and Andrew Gillum (Florida gubernatorial nominee).

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