Special election for Mississippi Senate seat headed for runoff

Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy

JACKSON, Miss.  — Mississippi’s U.S. Senate special election is headed to a runoff, and the state’s voters will either elect a woman to the office for the first time ever or a black man for the first time since Reconstruction.

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy advanced Tuesday from a field of four. They compete in a Nov. 27 runoff, and the winner will serve the final two years of a term started by Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who retired in April.

As of late Tuesday night, the two were tied at 41 percent, with Espy ahead by about 1,000 votes.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith, who was state agriculture commissioner, to temporarily succeed Cochran until the special election is decided. She is the first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress, but no woman has been elected to the job from the state. She is endorsed by President Donald Trump.

Espy is a former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary.