GOP US Sen. Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi's divisive runoff, keeps her seat

Official senate portrait of Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) from Mississippi, Photo Date: 4/17/2018 / Mike Espy (D) is a Former United States Secretary of Agriculture, Photo Date: 2/23/2012 / Photo: U.S. Senate / U.S. Department of Agriculture / Bob Nichols
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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has won a divisive Mississippi runoff to remain in office.

In Tuesday’s race, 59-year-old Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy, a former U.S. agriculture secretary who hoped to become Mississippi’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

The win allows Hyde-Smith to complete the final two years of Sen. Thad Cochran’s six-year term. Cochran retired in April. Hyde-Smith was appointed to temporarily succeed him.

The win makes her the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.

The runoff was rocked by a video showing her praise a supporter by saying she’d attend a “public hanging” if he invited her. She called it an “exaggerated expression of regard.” The comment made Mississippi’s history of racist lynchings a runoff theme.

President Donald Trump endorsed Hyde-Smith and rallied for her after the comments became public.

Republicans will now hold 53 of 100 Senate seats.