Mississippi was given the opportunity to move out of the dark shadow of its racist past on Tuesday. Voters in the deep-red state declined.
According to Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political report, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith will win the runoff contest over Democratic challenger Mike Espy.
Projection: Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) has defeated Mike Espy (D) in the #MSSEN runoff. But she’s done so w/ an underwhelming margin for an R in MS.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 28, 2018
It was always going to be a near-impossible task for an African-American Democrat to win a statewide race in Mississippi, but Hyde-Smith’s constant racist dog whistles throughout the campaign put a national spotlight on the race.
The widespread media attention may not have ousted the Republican incumbent, but it did show that Mississippi is a state that’s living decades behind most of the country.
Racism still sells in Mississippi
There is no need to sugarcoat what happened in Mississippi on Tuesday night. Simply put, racism still sells in the state. Cindy Hyde-Smith is the embodiment of that.
Earlier this month, the Republican incumbent told her supporters that she would be “on the front row” if she was invited to a “public hanging.”
Stunningly, Hyde-Smith’s initial response to the backlash of her remarks was to stand by them. After more than a week, she finally decided to apologize in a televised debate.
But that was only the beginning. The Republican senator also was caught on tape saying she wanted to make it harder for liberals in Mississippi to vote.
And, according to the Jackson Free Press, Hyde-Smith “attended and graduated from a segregation academy that was set up so that white parents could avoid having to send their children to schools with black students, a yearbook reveals.”
She has also repeatedly embraced Mississippi’s Confederate past. As CNN noted, Hyde-Smith once posed with Confederate artifacts, calling them “Mississippi history at its best!”
Ultimately, the country has made great progress in healing the racial wounds of the past, but some parts of America are still – sadly – too far behind.
On Tuesday night, Mississippi showed itself to be one of those places.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.