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Hyde-Smith, Espy Debate Tonight for Runoff Election

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

Democrat Mike Espy (left), who polled 43 percent of Tuesday’s vote during the special election, and Cindy Hyde-Smith (right), who had been serving temporarily in the seat vacated by the retirement of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, will advance to a runoff election held Nov. 27 to vie for the Senate seat.

Interim U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and her Democrat opponent and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Espy, will face each other tonight in a live debate in Jackson prior to the runoff election on Nov. 27.

The debate will air on multiple C SPAN channels (10:18 p.m. EST) along with local outlets such as WTVA and WLBT starting at 7 p.m. CT.

Neither Mike Espy, who polled 43 percent of Election Day’s vote, nor Cindy Hyde-Smith, who has been serving temporarily in the seat vacated by the retirement of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and earned about 40 percent of the vote, received more than 50 percent of votes cast on Election Day.

Both candidates will now have the opportunity to convince Mississippi voters one last time to earn their respective votes. Hyde-Smith and Espy have both faced severe criticism in the past few weeks.

Hyde-Smith recently faced backlash after a video surfaced of her statement, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” in regards to acknowledging Tupelo cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson’s support for the appointed senator.

Hyde-Smith came under further backlash this week when a new video surfaced of her speaking to students in Starkville where she said suppressing liberal votes would be a “great idea.”

“There’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. So, I think that’s a great idea,” Hyde-Smith said in the video clip.

While Hyde-Smith suffered from criticism of her comments made on two separate videos, Espy went under fire after accepting full payment of a lobbying contract from Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo in 2011, who refused to step down even after losing the 2010 election and is now on trial in international court for crimes against humanity.

Espy said he halted the business contract and only received a partial payment of the contract in 2011.

However, Fox News reported last Thursday that according to U.S. Department of Justice Foreign Agents Registration Act documents, Espy’s Jackson-based agricultural consulting firm AE Agritrade received the first payment of $400,000 from Gbagbo in January 2011, which would have been the partial payment.

The document shows that Espy’s firm also received the second payment of $350,000 on March 1, 2011, according to the Clarion Ledger’s report.

Sen. Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy battle for the Senate seat Nov. 27 when Mississippians head back to the polls for a runoff election.

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