I do wish this weren’t the case, but race still matters in determining our elected leadership in many of our states.
I fear we’re going to see an example of it at the end of today when they count the ballots in Mississippi, a state long held up as an example where bigotry and racism run rampant.
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is running for election to a seat to which she was appointed. The Republican is facing Democrat Mike Espy, a former agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a runoff election, with Hyde-Smith and Espy competing as the top two finishers in an open contest featuring candidates from both major parties.
It doesn’t look good for Espy at this moment. Why? Well, Espy is an African-American candidate. He also is known as a moderate Democrat, a thoughtful fellow with extensive government experience.
Hyde-Smith has been caught in a number of troubling incidents. She said just a few weeks ago that she would be on the front row if she were invited to a “public hanging.” Many substituted the term “hanging” with “lynching,” which of course sounds the siren to African-Americans who know what that entails.
She then offered one of those idiotic non-apologies, saying she is sorry to “anyone who was offended” by her remarks. She also had her picture taken in 2014 wearing a Confederate cap, packing a rifle under a caption that extolled the Confederacy’s glowing role in state history.
Mississippi is a deeply Republican state. Espy is hoping to capture lightning with a record African-American turnout today, while winning roughly a quarter of the white vote. Will it happen? I hope it does.
Here, though, is one more kick in the gut: The third-place finisher in that earlier election was a Donald Trump sycophant, Chris McDaniel; most of the votes that McDaniel got are damn near a cinch to end up in Hyde-Smith’s column at day’s end.
Yes, we should all should be interested in this race, even though it’s down yonder in Mississippi. The winner will help write national laws that affect all of us.
Thus, I am pulling for Mike Espy.