Cindy Hyde-Smith overcame racially-tinged verbal gaffes late in her campaign to retain her U.S. Senate seat from Mississippi Tuesday night, defeating Mike Espy, who was seeking to become the state's first black senator since Reconstruction.
The controversies surrounding her set off a major push by national Republicans to avoid the same embarrassment they'd suffered previous year in Alabama over the Senate campaign of Roy Moore and save Hyde-Smith.
Hyde-Smith, 59, secured more than 53 percent of the vote compared to her opponent, Democrat Mike Espy, at a ballot she described to be about "conservative values".
The victory for Hyde-Smith comes after the left-wing mainstream media launched an all-out effort to stop Hyde-Smith by distorting remarks that she had made and past actions as signs that she was a racist.
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.
In the final weeks of the runoff, Ms Hyde-Smith's campaign said the remark about making voting hard was a joke.
The GOP pumped resources into MS, and President Donald Trump made a strong effort on behalf of Hyde-Smith, holding last-minute rallies in MS on Monday.More news: Australia's David Pocock out of England clash with neck injury
Mike Espy made a concession speech saying, "she has my prayers as she goes to Washington to unite a very divided MS".
Other questions about Hyde-Smith's past also arose - photos of her touring the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis with a caption that said, "Mississippi history at its best!"; a measure she'd once pushed in the state Senate for revisionist view of the Civil War as "The War Between the States"; and news that she'd attended an all-white private school like those founded in the South to circumvent integration decrees.
Espy, 64, campaigned as a moderate who would work with Trump and Republicans to benefit the state. She called it an "exaggerated expression of regard". Even Republicans say she badly mishandled the fallout, refusing to apologize for more than a week before issuing a quasi-apology to "anyone that was offended" during her debate with Espy.
In the final stretch, she portrayed the contest as a battle of ideologies and was aided by President Donald Trump, who visited the state on Monday for two rallies, as well as GOP groups who poured resources in the final stretch to bolster her campaign. 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.
Some corporate donors, including Walmart, requested refunds on their campaign contributions to Hyde-Smith after the videos surfaced. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, who retired for health reasons.
Hyde-Smith and Espy emerged from a field of four candidates November 6 to advance to Tuesday's runoff. "We are all proud of you".