Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi retained her seat Tuesday despite controversial remarks, beating Democratic challenger Mike Espy, an African-American who was trying to make history in the runoff election.
With 91 percent or precincts reporting, Hyde-Smith had garnered 54.8 percent of the vote to Espy’s 45.2 percent, according to the Associated Press.
Espy was vying to become Mississippi’s first black senator since Reconstruction. Race had taken a front seat in the runoff after Hyde-Smith joked to a supporter that she’d “be on the front row” if invited to a public hanging. Espy had taken 40.6 percent of the vote in the first round and Hyde-Smith 41.5 percent.
The win gives the Republicans a 53-47 majority in the U.S. Senate, two seats more than they had before.