Five candidates have filed the necessary paperwork in the race for the Senate seat recently vacated by Thad Cochran.
Cochran served in the seat for nearly 40 years, and his retirement became official on April 1st. After the Senator announced he would be stepping away, Governor Phil Bryant appointed the Department Agriculture Commissioner, Cindy Hyde-Smith, to fill the seat on a temporary basis.
While Senator Hyde-Smith is already in Washington, she must now campaign alongside the other candidates in the race which will conclude on November 6th. Currently, five candidates have filed to run, including two Republicans and three Democrats.
The candidates are:
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) – As the Governor’s appointee, Hyde-Smith recently became the first woman sent to Washington on Mississippi’s behalf. Before her appointment, Hyde-Smith had served in the Mississippi legislature for three terms and was elected as the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture back in 2011. Hyde-Smith has stated that she looks forward to running on her conservative record that she has established during her time in the state legislature.
Chris McDaniel (R) – McDaniel is a long-time state legislator from Jones County, and he has made a run at the U.S. Senate before. McDaniel challenged Cochran in a heavily-contested election back in 2014. Originally, McDaniel was set to challenge incumbent Senator Roger Wicker this time around but decided to switch races when Cochran’s seat became available. McDaniel has continued to portray himself as an “anti-establishment” candidate as he attempts to win the seat that eluded him in 2014.
Jason Shelton (D) – Shelton is the Mayor of Tupelo and has served in that role since 2013. While he has not held a legislative office, Shelton described himself as a “fiscal conservative” who wants to create jobs and work toward an improved quality of life for Mississippians. Shelton has also expressed his desire to use bipartisanship to get things done in D.C. as he says they’ve done in Tupelo.
Mike Espy (D) – Espy is the former Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (1993-94) and a former U.S. Representative from the 2nd District of Mississippi (1987-93). He became the first to announce his intent to run, doing so just hours after Cochran announced his retirement. He says that he wants to return to Washington, and work to end the “dysfunction.”
Tobey Bartee (D) – From Gautier, Bartee is a newcomer to the race and has yet to make his agenda known to Mississippi voters, but he will most likely do so in the coming weeks.
While there are multiple candidates on each side of the political spectrum, this race will look different than others. Because it is a special election, there will be no primary, and all of the candidates will appear on the election day ballot.
If no candidate receives a majority of the vote on November 6th, a run-off will be held on the 27th.