On Wednesday, March 21, Governor Phil Bryant named state Agricultural Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith as his appointment to fulfill the seat soon to be vacated by Senator Thad Cochran.
Cochran will be leaving office on April 1 citing health conditions. Cochran has served in his role as a delegate to the United States Senate since 1978 and has numerous accolades, including serving as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. A member of this committee, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) called Cochran “the last true southern gentleman.”
Hyde-Smith will be the first female to represent the state in the Senate. Hyde-Smith served as a State Senator from the 39th District of Mississippi, where she was a registered Democrat from 2003- 2010.
She also previously served as then-candidate Donald Trump’s Agriculture Policy Advisory Council’s co-chair. In a guest article for the Clarion Ledger, Bryant referred to Hyde-Smith as a “rock-solid conservative,” who was “the most reliable vote I had for conservative causes.”
Though some chose to applaud Bryant for choosing an individual to fill Cochran’s seat, others showed concern for the future of the Mississippi delegation.
“The White House and other senior Republicans reviewed polling conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee showing Hyde-Smith in third place in a prospective match-up, trailing [Chris] McDaniel and a prospective Democratic candidate,” Politico reporter Alex Isenstadt said.
McDaniel, who serves in the Mississippi State Senate, is an anti- establishment conservative. Trump ran on the promise to “Drain the Swamp” and won the state with more than 215,000 votes than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Recent polling from Real Clear Politics reports that more than half of the nation disapproves of Trump.
During Alabama’s special election in 2017, Democrat Doug Jones won against Republican Roy Moore in the deep red state by more than 20,000 votes.
Hyde-Smith will begin formally campaigning to fulfill the rest of Cochran’s term within the coming months before the special election in November of 2018.