Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi on Tuesday, setting up a rematch with Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, an outspoken ally of President Donald Trump.
Espy told reporters Tuesday night that he is better prepared for this election.
“We’re going to build the greatest coalition of voters — white and black; rural and urban; male, female — that Mississippi’s ever seen,” Espy said.
Hyde-Smith said Tuesday on Twitter, “We can let the Liberal Democrats with their socialist agenda know … it may be alive and well in the heart of Nancy Pelosi, BUT IT IS DEAD IN MISSISSIPPI!”
Espy defeated two candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Libertarian candidate Jimmy Edwards will also be on the ballot for Senate in November.
In the final days leading to the 2018 runoff with Espy, a video showed Hyde-Smith praising a supporter at a campaign appearance by saying she would attend a “public hanging” if the man invited her. That prompted widespread criticism that Hyde-Smith was being insensitive in a state with a history of lynchings of African Americans. Hyde-Smith said it was “an exaggerated expression of regard” for the supporter.
In 1986, Espy became Mississippi’s first African American congressman since Reconstruction. In 1993, President Bill Clinton named him agriculture secretary.