Election a wake up call’ Espy supporters see positives in Tuesday’s loss.

He looked at her and she smiled reassurances to him. History was made when Cindy Hyde Smith, Espy’s Republican opponent, became the first woman elected from Mississippi to the U.S. Senate. The Civil Rights Museum Tuesday night was not comforted by this. It was a relief to know that Espy, based on unofficial returns and incomplete returns, will get more than 46 percent. This is the highest percentage for a Democrat running for national office in Mississippi since 1988. Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Wayne Dowdy won 46.1 percent in the election to replace John Stennis, a long-serving Democratic senator. Trent Lott was a fellow U.S. House member. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove was defeated by Roger Wicker (a former member of the U.S. House). Brad Chism (a senior strategist for Espy), said that this was the “good news”: the Democratic performance in a race to national office in 30 years is by Ronnie Musgrove, who received 44.7 percent against Roger Wicker, a former U.S. House member. Espy was elected to U.S. House in the first election for an African American in Mississippi since 1986. He also served as secretary of agriculture. Chism also stated that Espy, who was out of politics for nearly a quarter century, had to create a campaign organization within six months. Chism stated that this normally takes two years. Espy won a few counties that a Democrat would not usually win. Espy won Warren and Lowndes counties, which were all won by Donald Trump in 2016. In Republican heavy DeSoto in Memphis, Espy did 18% better than Clinton in 2016. Espy did 6 percent better in Jackson’s Madison County than Clinton. In rural counties, especially in the northeast Mississippi counties that Trump visited Monday, Republican turnout was closer to 2016 levels. Chism stated that Espy was facing an uphill battle after the Nov. 6 election in which neither candidate received a majority vote. The Republican candidates in this race – Hyde Smith and state senator Chris McDaniel (a Tea Party favorite) – received 16 percent more votes than Espy and Tobey Barrtee, a Gautier Democrat, on Nov. 6. Tuesday saw Espy reduce that gap by half. Chism said, “We knew that we had a narrow path towards victory.” “…Being two to one outspent and having Air Force One make not one but two stops in the State on the eve are difficult to overcome,” Chism stated. He didn’t know if some Republicans who voted on Nov.6 for Hyde Smith had “buyer’s remorse” or that her margin of victory was due to McDaniel voters. In an attempt to win voters, Hyde-Smith’s campaign used “dog whistles” which were “one step below race baiting,” he said. Hyde-Smith made controversial statements during the campaign in which she said that she would sit on the front row for a public hanging. She also supported the suppression of liberal votes at Mississippi universities. After apologizing, she said that the comments were a joke and that she meant them. While the Hyde-Smith campaign and others criticised Espy for legal problems he faced, they were acquitted for issues related to his time in office as secretary of agriculture and his lobbying work. Both candidates received about 100,000 more votes than Hyde-Smith, while Espy received about 50,000. Bobby Moak, the chair of the state Democratic Party said that “this election was a wake-up call for both parties.” Although Espy supporters may have taken solace in their strong showings, they lost in the end. Jim Griffith, who runs a Jackson financial services company and was there as an Espy supporter for the watch party, said that he didn’t think it would go the way it did. He also acknowledged that the Republican hold on the state is too strong. He said, “We had some items that I don’t believe represent the state.” “Regardless of the intention of what was said it wasn’t represent the state.” Machelle Kyles of Bolton stated that she struggled to get past comments like “Anytime an elected official or no appointed official says these things, it is personal.” Espy left Tuesday night on a high note. Espy said, “Make no mistake, tonight is the beginning and not the end.” It is not a loss when this many people come out and stand up. It is a movement. “And we will not stop moving our state forward because of one election. “I look forward to finding new methods to do that.” Espy (65) said Friday that he believes young people will be inspired by his campaign to get into politics.

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