MS Senate race to replace Cochran attracts national attention

State Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde Smith speaks about the positive actions of her department to protect and enhance the lot of the state's farmers during her address at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia Miss.. Known

Thad Cochran, who is retiring after almost 50 years of service to the state of Mississippi.

A former Democrat who served in the state legislature before being elected to head the agriculture and commerce panel in 2011, Hyde-Smith will be the first woman to represent MS in the Senate.

Hyde-Smith, a Republican, served as Mississippi's commissioner of agriculture and commerce until her appointment.

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - In a story March 21 about a U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi, The Associated Press erroneously reported the end date of a term started by Republican Thad Cochran.

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith of MS has been appointed to succeed veteran U.S. Sen. In 2016, she was one of many agriculture advisers to Trump's presidential campaign and she praised his administration for cutting regulations on businesses. It appears from the press coverage that Hyde-Smith will be able to count on support from the GOP "establishment" at the state and national level, the fact that the White House is presently balking at backing her bid and that McDaniel is mounting a challenge seems to guarantee that there will be another epic battle in MS, although it probably won't be almost as weird as the primary battle between Cochran and McDaniel four years ago. I thank God for that opportunity.

Today is Senator-Designate Cindy Hyde-Smith's day, and I congratulate her both on receiving Governor Bryant's appointment and on her historic achievement.

She spent 12 years as a state senator representing District 39, where she served eight years as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

It also means that the Senate _ once Hyde-Smith is sworn in _ would have 23 female members, an all-time high. Thad Cochran, who is 80, is stepping down April 1.

Cochran in a statement Wednesday called Hyde-Smith "a very well-qualified person whose experiences and excellent character will benefit our state in Washington". She has twice been elected statewide on the Republican ticket - winning election as agriculture commissioner by 16 points in 2011, and then re-election four years later by 25 points. Thad Cochran's soon-to-be vacant seat-in November's special election.

After news broke of Bryant's appointment, McDaniel again charged the governor with following "the orders of the Washington establishment's Mitch McConnell" in appointing Hyde-Smith.

During a phone call Tuesday, administration officials told Bryant that Hyde-Smith's past history as a Democrat would hobble her in the special election contest for the seat being vacated by longtime GOP Sen.

Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who made an unsuccessful bid to dislodge Cochran in the 2014 GOP primary, announced last week he was switching from mounting a primary challenge to Wicker to running for Cochran's seat. In 1986, Espy became the first African-American in modern times to win a congressional seat in Mississippi. Chris McDaniel and Democrats who would like to nab a MS senate seat as part of an effort to overturn a slim GOP majority. "Although her reputation in Jackson was that of a moderate Democrat, the last thing the state of MS needs in Washington is another moderate Democrat", McDaniel said in a statement released Wednesday.

While McDaniel's decision to shift over to the race for Cochran's seat likely means smooth sailing through November for Roger Wicker, it guarantees that we'll see a raucous primary battle in the Magnolia State between Hyde-Smith and McDaniel and perhaps other candidates should anyone else decide to enter the race.

"I think there are a lot of former Democrats in the state of MS, so we welcome those that are in the Democratic Party", Bryant said. Like the White House officials, they don't know her well at all.

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