Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant appointed State Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to Senate Wednesday. The announcement took place at the Military Memorial Museum at the Old Train Depot in Brookhaven.
“Commissioner Hyde-Smith has worked tirelessly on behalf of the men and women in agriculture, Mississippi’s largest industry and a treasured way of life in our state,” Gov. Bryant said. “Her intellect, compassion, toughness and determination to get things done exemplify everything Mississippi needs in the United States Senate. I know she will continue to faithfully serve every Mississippian in her new role.”
Hyde-Smith addressed the crowd, saying, “I am truly humbled and honored that Governor Phil Bryant has asked me to serve as your next U.S. Senator. I am eager and excited to get to Washington to begin work on issues that are important to every Mississippian. I am extremely grateful for the work of Senator Thad Cochran. His contributions to the state of Mississippi have been invaluable.”
Hyde-Smith will be Mississippi's first female U.S. senator and will fill the Senate vacancy when veteran Senator Thad Cochran retires in April.
“I congratulate Governor Bryant on his historic selection of Cindy Hyde-Smith to represent Mississippi in the United States Senate," Senator Cochran said in a statement. "She is a very well-qualified person whose experiences and excellent character will benefit our state in Washington.”
She served as a State Senator from 2000-2012 for her hometown of Brookhaven. After winning the election in 2011, she became the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce starting in 2012.
She was a registered Democrat until 2010 when she switched to the Republican party.
Not only is Smith the first female U.S. Senator to represent Mississippi, she's the 6th female Republican U.S. Senator in history.
Senator Roger Wicker said, “Governor Phil Bryant has made an excellent and historic pick in Cindy Hyde-Smith to be our next United States Senator. She served admirably in the Mississippi Senate and as our Commissioner of Agriculture, and I know she will be an effective, conservative Senator from day one. I look forward to being her colleague and working with her to serve all Mississippians.”
After she's appointed she will immediately run for re-election on November 6 for the remainder of Cochran's term which expires in 2020. The next full Senate term would begin in 2021.
She's expected to be backed by the national and Mississippi GOP establishment in the coming election.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports this is alarming senior Republicans who believe it could create a messy special election and an opening for Democrats.
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Mike Espy, released this statement after the announcement:
“The United States Secretary of Agriculture is often called “the Mayor of Rural America”. Humbled by that title I worked in the Cabinet and Congress to help rural hospitals, schools, and all of Mississippi’s small cities and towns to navigate through challenging times. I note the Governor’s appointment of Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to be the interim US Senator and look forward as the campaigns progress to discussing the issues facing production agriculture, global farm trade, and the many other issues that touch and concern all of our people, and which inhibit them from earning better livings and having more fulfilling lives."
Some in the GOP are reportedly concerned that she may be vulnerable to the challenge by Senator Chris McDaniel, a firebrand conservative.
McDaniel released this statement on the appointment of Hyde-Smith:
"Today, I was troubled to learn that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant dutifully followed the orders of the Washington establishment's Mitch McConnell by appointing Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill the temporary vacancy created by Senator Thad Cochran's retirement.
Before Commissioner Hyde-Smith was elected to lead the department of Agriculture, her only legislative experience was that of a Democrat. She ran as a Democrat. She served as a Democrat. She voted like a Democrat. Although her reputation in Jackson was that of a moderate Democrat, the last thing the state of Mississippi needs in Washington is another moderate Democrat.
Knowing the establishment's opposition to conservatives, it was not at all surprising that they would choose a former Democrat. Nevertheless, I am pleased that Mississippi voters will have a clear choice in November for the open seat for United States Senate. They can choose from among the Democratic candidates or they can vote for a lifelong conservative Republican.
The establishment should have learned their lesson in Alabama. By spending millions of dollars against conservative Mo Brooks, they ended up losing the seat to a Democrat. Now, they are going to appoint one in Mississippi. Instead of unifying around my candidacy, and beating the Democrats, the establishment is once again going to waste millions of dollars of donors' money over what should have been a safe Republican seat in Mississippi.
Fortunately, Mississippi Republicans now know what happens when the establishment tries to handpick their representatives for them - we end up losing seats and wasting money. The fact is, the DC establishment would rather let a Democrat have the seat than let a conservative win.
Mississippi needs to send a conservative to Washington to drain the swamp, and if elected, that is what I intend to do."
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