Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins US Senate race in Mississippi

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He told the crowd that he had called Hyde-Smith to congratulate her after a grueling campaign that drew national attention in large part because of Hyde-Smith's comments about attending a public hanging and supporting voter suppression.

"Congratulations to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on your big WIN in the Great State of Mississippi", Trump tweeted Tuesday night.

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. "We are all proud of you".

Hyde-Smith was projected to win by about 70,000 votes over Espy, a former congressman and agriculture secretary under Barack Obama.

The video sparked a furor in a state with a history of racism and violence against blacks, including lynchings, and fueled Democratic hopes of an upset in a state where 38 percent of the population is black.

"Mississippians know me and they know my heart, and thank you for stepping up", she added.

Cindy: 'I guess what I'm really saying is F*** Hyde-Smith and anyone who voted for her.

Hyde-Smith's campaign hammered Espy for his $750,000 lobbying contract in 2011 with the Cocoa and Coffee Board of the Ivory Coast. She said the "public hanging" comment was "an exaggerated expression of regard" for a fellow cattle rancher. But because no one cleared 50 percent of the vote, they both advanced to Tuesday's runoff.

Backlash against Hyde-Smith's comments led to a number of organizations retracting their donations to her campaign, including Google and the Major League of Baseball. Ultimately, the lack of a more honest apology, and the questions surrounding why Hyde-Smith would make the comment in the first place - especially in light of Mississippi's bleak history of public hangings of black Americans - is deeply troubling.

She will serve out the remaining two years of former Republican Senator Thad Cochran's term, whom she was appointed to replace earlier this year after he stepped down due to health concerns.

As it stands, Republicans will hold 53 seats next year and Democrats will have 47.

Cindy Hyde-Smith is returning to Washington as a solidly loyal Trump supporter. Her campaign said it was a joke, but that explanation backfired when the black student seen laughing in a picture from the event her campaign posted on Twitter responded that Hyde-Smith's campaign was using him as a prop. But if black voters rise to 40 percent of the electorate and Espy wins 9 out of 10, he needs less than a quarter of white votes for victory.

In a statement Tuesday night, Espy, an African American politician, said the election is "the beginning, not the end". He was tried and acquitted on 30 corruption charges, but the Mississippi Republican Party ran an ad this year that called Espy "too corrupt for the Clintons" and "too liberal for Mississippi".