GOP candidates have made numerous questionable race-related comments in the last few weeks. Steve King’s history of racial rhetoric earned him a rebuke from the NRCC and Ron Desantis was accused of using coded language in his campaign against Andrew Gillum.
Mississippi Senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith, however, may have taken the cake with her recent comments. After being complimented by a supporter, Hyde-Smith replied, ““if he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be in the first row.”
While Hyde-Smith’s comments would be insensitive in any context, many elements of her senate race make them even more questionable. In addition to her opponent, Mike Espy, being African American, her state of Mississippi has an ugly history of lynchings.
The Jackson Free Press reports that, “Between 1887 and 1950, Mississippi has the highest number of lynchings of African Americans of any state in the United States.”
Mississippi was the site of possibly the best known lynching in American history. In the summer of 1964, James Chaney, Andre Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered in Neshoba County while campaigning for Civil Rights.
Espy was quick to respond to the comments, “Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible. They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.”
Hyde-Smith took no responsibility for the offense, claiming, “I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”
While the state is very conservative, Hyde-Smith’s remarks could hurt her senate race. Mississippi’s voters will get the chance to weigh in on the comments as Espy and Hyde-Smith are competing in a run-off on November 27.
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Todd Neikirk is a New Jersey-based politics and technology writer. His work has been featured in psfk.com, foxsports.com, and PoliticusUSA. An avid pet lover, he has been known to contribute to Pet Lifestyles Magazine. He enjoys sports, politics, technology, and spending time at the shore with his family.