Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith won Mississippi's Senate race against Democrat Mike Espy after joking about a "public hanging" in a state known for its lynchings.
In Tuesday's race, 59-year-old Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy, a former US agriculture secretary who hoped to become Mississippi's first African-American senator since Reconstruction.
Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith defeats Democrat Mike Espy in special election; Peter Doocy reports from Jackson, Miss.
The Associated Press called the race for Hyde-Smith at 10:24 P.M. ET. A separate video showed her talking about "liberal folks" and making it "just a little more difficult" for them to vote.
He tried to recreate the coalition that propelled Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate win in neighboring Alabama previous year by energizing black voters, particularly women, and winning support from white swing voters. "This looks like a mid-to-high single digit Hyde-Smith (R) win at the moment".
"The reason we won is because Mississippians know me, they know my heart", Hyde-Smith said Tuesday night.
The same progressive blogger who published the video of her using the phrase "public hanging" later published one in which Hyde-Smith told a small group at Mississippi State University that suppressing the votes of students at other colleges was "a great thing".
The runoff contest drew comparisons to the Alabama Senate special election previous year, when Democrat Doug Jones won a narrow victory against Roy Moore, after the Republican faced multiple accusations from women that he had molested them when they were teenagers. Politico unearthed a 2014 post on Hyde-Smith's Facebook page that included a photo of her wearing a Confederate soldier's hat and holding a rifle during a visit to Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library in Biloxi.
Speaking to supporters after her win, Ms Hyde-Smith vowed to fight for everyone in the state when she goes to Washington.
She initially refused to apologize for the hanging remark, but said in a debate last week that she was sorry 'for anyone that was offended'. However, in 2018, it is deeply troubling to hear the term "public hanging" being used in this context by a senator, particularly given the division in our politics.
"Mississippi was one of the last two states to have never elected a woman to Congress", said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, according to USA Today.
Some corporate donors, including Walmart, requested refunds on their campaign contributions to Hyde-Smith after the videos surfaced. Thad Cochran who announced his retirement back in March.
Hyde-Smith and Espy emerged from a field of four candidates November 6 to advance to Tuesday's runoff.
President Donald Trump visited MS on Monday to rally Republican voters behind Hyde-Smith after her comments about a "public hanging" set off weeks of controversy. "We are all proud of you".