Nov 20, 2018

The fight for Mississippi's special Senate election

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call; Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.

Mississippi's special Senate election — once thought to be a foregone conclusion — has taken on a national profile and is now being actively targeted by Democrats as the race heads to a runoff next week.

The big picture: The contest between Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who would be the first woman elected to represent the state in Congress, and Democrat Mike Espy, who would be Mississippi's first African-American senator since Reconstruction, has devolved into what Politico calls "a bare-knuckle brawl infused with ugly racial politics."

What happened

At a campaign event this month, Hyde-Smith told a supporter that if he invited her to a public hanging, she would be "on the front row."

  • She said in a statement that it was "an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous," Roll Call reports.
  • Espy's camp responded that her comments "have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country."
  • Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, said that "Hyde-Smith's decision to joke about 'hanging,' in a state known for its violent and terroristic history towards African Americans is sick."

She also said that suppressing college student votes might be a "good thing" because it would make it "just a little more difficult" for "liberal folks in those other schools" to vote, CNN reported.

Where things stand

Hyde-Smith, who took over for former Sen. Thad Cochran earlier this year, was nine points ahead of Espy in an October NBC News/Marist Poll.

  • It was expected that she wasn't going to receive 50% of the vote on election night because of a vote split with Republican competitor on the ballot, thus pushing the race to a runoff, per the New Yorker.
  • Since Hyde-Smith's contentious comments, Espy has worked to win over black voters and progressive white voters. Per CNN, Epsy told a group of more than 100 women over the weekend that his election would portray "a Mississippi that's moving forward, a Mississippi with a better image."

Epsy has come under fire for his own baggage during the campaign, including being indicted — and acquitted— of corruption charges in the 1990s, the New York Times reports.

What's next

The runoff is set to take place next week on Nov. 27, and the only debate in the race is set for Tuesday.

  • Showcasing Espy's momentum, prominent Senate Democrats and potential 2020 candidates like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have already visited Mississippi to campaign — and more could be coming after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Trump will visit the state to back Hyde-Smith with two rallies on Nov. 26 — in Tupelo and Biloxi.

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World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to less than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,401,701 — Total deaths: 345,060 — Total recoveries — 2,149,407Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,643,238 — Total deaths: 97,720 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools, tweeting late Sunday: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump pushed back on NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month, calling his concerns "not an acceptable answer."