Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi Senate runoff

Ms Cindy Hyde-Smith's victory means Republicans will have a 53 to 47 majority in the next Congress, two seats more than they currently hold.
Ms Cindy Hyde-Smith's victory means Republicans will have a 53 to 47 majority in the next Congress, two seats more than they currently hold.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated her Democratic opponent in the runoff for the Senate seat she was appointed to earlier this year, keeping the seat in Republican control.

Ms Hyde-Smith began the race heavily favoured. She replaced former Senator Thad Cochran when he stepped down because of health reasons earlier this year, and led by double digits in polls.

However, she garnered negative national attention after racially-charged remarks where she said if a supporter asked her to come to a "public hanging" she'd sit in the "front row".

Her opponent, Mr Mike Espy, who served as Agriculture Secretary in former President Bill Clinton's Cabinet, is black.

Several companies, including Walmart Inc, pulled financial support for Ms Hyde-Smith following her comments.

President Donald Trump, eager to keep the seat in Republican hands, continued to campaign for Ms Hyde-Smith, holding two rallies in the state on Monday.

Her victory means Republicans will have a 53 to 47 majority in the next Congress, two seats more than they currently hold.

She will serve out the rest of Mr Cochran's term and can run for a full six-year term in 2020.