Mississippi Senate race: Cindy Hyde-Smith defeats Mike Espy

Republican voters rally behind Hyde-Smith despite reservations

Republican voters in Mississippi may not be thrilled with Hyde-Smith as a candidate, but they are coalescing behind her as the GOP candidate in the race.

“She’s a Republican, I guess,” said Jerry Smith, a grandfather and longtime Mississippi resident, about why he was voting for Hyde-Smith. He was not deterred by the backlash to her racially-tinged comments about being willing to attend a “public hanging.”

“I think it’s been overblown,” Smith said over a simmering plate of Chinese food at the Edgewater Mall in Biloxi. “But I ask myself sometimes, which are the two of the least evil — which of the two are the least evil. I’m voting for Smith. I just think she’s the less of the two evils.”

Betty Lechman, a Biloxi-area resident of five decades, told CBS News’ Kathryn Watson that she would vote for Hyde-Smith because she was a Republican.

“But like I said, neither one of them, I wish I had somebody else to vote for. But it’s not going to happen,” Lechman added. “All the mud-slinging. I don’t like mud-slinging and both of them are doing that.”

Her friend, Marion Cranmer, also a retired longtime Mississippi resident, agreed.

“There’s been too much mud-slinging,” Cranmer said, frustrated. “You just wonder sometimes what you hear about her whether some of it’s not true. But, it just kind of puts you on the fence. I don’t like either one of them.”

As of Monday, Cranmer wasn’t sure if she’d be voting. But, “if you don’t vote for her, it’s a vote for him,” she added.

Dianne Swennumson, an Espy supporter, said that she wasn’t confident about the Democratic candidate’s chances. She and her husband have supported Republicans in the past but say they’re appalled by Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and behavior. Swennumson was always planning to vote for Espy, but felt more certain about her decision after Hyde-Smith’s “public hanging” comment.

“I think he has a chance but I think this is Mississippi,” Swennumson said. “I wish we could be like Alabama who had enough with Roy Moore, you know. I really didn’t think that was going to happen but it did, and it could be.”

“I’ll be totally shocked if Espy wins,” Swennumson added.

Reporting by Kathryn Watson

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