Cindy Hyde-Smith says she is ready for the US Senate

Hugh Fox
March 24, 2018

White House officials this week told Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant that President Donald Trump did not plan to campaign for or endorse Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith if she was appointed to the state's open Senate seat, saying they were anxious that the former Democrat would lose.

A Republican, Hyde-Smith, 58, will be the first woman member of Congress from MS, until a special election November 6 decides who will serve out the remainder of Cochran's term through 2021. As noted, Hyde-Smith will serve at least until the Special Election that will be held to determine who will finish out the rest of Cochran's term takes place in November.

By choosing Hyde-Smith and passing over the 70-year-old Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Bryant follows a long MS tradition of seeking to place federal lawmakers who can stay in Congress for decades and build seniority and influence.

Hyde-Smith, a former state senator, began her term in the legislature as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party in 2010.

"Governor Phil Bryant has made an excellent and historic pick in Cindy Hyde-Smith to be our next United States Senator".

Bryant is a Trump supporter and has said he believes the president will campaign for his Senate appointee in the special election, which could attract several candidates.

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Hyde-Smith, the state's agriculture commissioner, thanked Bryant and said: "I pledge to you to serve all of our citizens with dignity, honor and respect".

Before getting to that point, though, Hyde-Smith will have to deal with what could be a strong primary challenge.

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.

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"We made history today", Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said on Twitter in announcing the appointment.

While the president does not now plan to endorse Hyde-Smith, the White House will continue to monitor the race, one of the administration officials said.

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McDaniel's campaign released an open letter to Trump on Wednesday morning from an assortment of Republican officials, encouraging the president to avoid an endorsement of Hyde-Smith. They recommended that, for now, the president should not endorse or campaign for Hyde-Smith should she get the appointment.

But her fight to keep the seat that Thad Cochran vacated is shaping up to be one with national implications. She ran as a Democrat.

Now, there are concerns that Hyde-Smith will not be able to defeat Chris McDaniel, a hard-right state senator who also is running in the November 6 special election and has been sharply critical of McConnell. "The Republican party in the state of MS is sort of struggling right now".

"I know they'll attack her, but I know Cindy and if they're not careful they will draw back a nub", Lott said. Hyde-Smith would be the first woman to represent MS in Congress.

Hyde-Smith in the state Senate voted with Republicans on abortion restrictions, lawsuit or "tort" reform and large budget cuts after the Great Recession.

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