MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Mississippians will see three more weeks of campaigning.
A runoff in the U.S. Senate race between Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy is set for November 27.
There was no debate in the primary, but Wednesday, Espy (D) challenged Hyde-Smith (R) to a debate.
She'd already said Tuesday night that she'd consider debating.
The two edged out challengers Tuesday in the jungle primary to replace retired Senator Thad Cochran.
Hyde-Smith, the incumbent, was appointed to the post earlier this year.
The election goes to a runoff because no candidate got 50 percent of the vote.
Nationally, Republicans picked up seats and will hold Senate control, so the Mississippi runoff may become less important. “I suspect there will not be a whole lot of money a lot of national interest in this race,” said WMC Action News 5 political analyst Michael Nelson. The four-way race revealed a close contest between Hyde-Smith and Espy, with Mississippi Delta counties that are largely African American breaking blue.
DeSoto and Tate counties and those in the Jackson suburbs with a larger makeup of whites voted red. “Given the demographics and the political history of the state, it's a Republican state,” Nelson said.
The question looming Wednesday is whether the runoff will be competitive.
Combining Republican Chris McDaniel's votes along with Hyde-Smith's gives Republicans a tally of nearly 58 percent. “For a Democrat running statewide in Mississippi, 40 percent is the floor but it's also pretty close to the ceiling,” Nelson said. “It would be amazing if he came within 10 points of her on November 27. It's just that Republican of a state.”
Turnout will be key, and it typically drops down in runoff elections.
Espy said last week he knows he has to get all the African American vote in the state and some carryover whites.