Mississippi Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith—appointed to the position in April 2018 by Governor Phil Bryant to replace resigning Senator Thad Cochran—made the evening news cycle steadily over the last few weeks.
Hyde-Smith faces a run-off against Democratic challenger Mike Espy—United States Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton. Espy was the first African American to hold that cabinet position and the first from the deep South.
Hyde-Smith and Espy ended the 2018 midterms election with 41.5% for the GOP candidate and 40.6% for her Democratic rival, to force the run-off election to be held on November 27, 2018.
But the pending return to the polls is not why Hyde-Smith keeps making the news. Hyde-Smith's particular brand of humor keeps drawing national outrage.
First, the incumbent Senator made what she deemed a joke about eagerly attending a lynching. In thanking a cattle rancher for his support, the Senator said:
"If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row."
People found her comment distasteful, especially considering it was said by a White woman running against a Black man in Mississippi.
Emmett Louis Till was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 at the age of 14, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store.
Then Hyde-Smith joked about voter suppression being a great idea. Given the lawsuits and charges of voter suppression in the 2018 midterms, her second joke also fell flat.
Now some of Hyde-Smith's campaign contributors are not laughing. They even asked for their money back.
Walmart, donor of $2,000 to Hyde-Smith's campaign, announced their decision on Twitter in response to a post by Will and Grace actress Debra Messing, stated:
"Hi Debra. Completely understand your concern. Sen. Hyde-Smith’s recent comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates. As a result, we are withdrawing our support and requesting a refund of all campaign donations."
@DebraMessing @slpng_giants Hi Debra. Completely understand your concern. Sen. Hyde-Smith’s recent comments clearly… https://t.co/PbXWCkA9HS— Walmart (@Walmart)1542723344.0
Walmart asks GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith for campaign donation back because of outrage over "hanging" comments. https://t.co/FbxRJG3WvE— CNBC (@CNBC)1542726074.0
Walmart was not alone in their desire to distance themselves from Hyde-Smith and her recent remarks. Railroad company Union Pacific, defense contractor Leidos—$5,000 campaign donors— and manufacturer Boston Scientific—a $2,500 donor—also asked for refunds.
Union Pacific also made their stance clear on Twitter. They stated:
"Union Pacific in no way, shape or form condones or supports divisive or perceived to be divisive statements. Our contribution was mailed prior to Hyde-Smith's statement being made public. Union Pacific requested a refund of our donation yesterday."
@Rockmedia @cindyhydesmith @ProcterGamble @BizRoundtable @PatrickKDecker Union Pacific in no way, shape or form con… https://t.co/08J7yP7tNk— Union Pacific (@Union Pacific)1542724699.0
Hyde-Smith refused to apologize for either remark.
These are all of the Cindy Hyde-Smith quotes about her "public hanging" comments OOMPH. https://t.co/jh3ewzh7Zl https://t.co/Wl1gAXQnRd— Chris Cillizza (@Chris Cillizza)1542060670.0
As a result, she found little sympathy online.
People applauded the decision by Walmart.
@CNBC Thanks Walmart for not donating hate— Larhonda Williams (@Larhonda Williams)1542726456.0
@CNBC In other news the white nationalist group that gave her money are all good.— tony phongsy (@tony phongsy)1542741755.0
@CNBC She is the definition of racists. The sad thing is that some people might vote for her to win.— Fadil Americano (@Fadil Americano)1542730104.0
And while people appreciated Walmart withdrawing their support, many still chastised the company for ever supporting Hyde-Smith at all.
@1liners @Walmart @DebraMessing @slpng_giants Walmart most likely did review her candidacy. They just didn't expect us to.— wordlass1🌊 (@wordlass1🌊)1542726444.0
@wordlass1 @1liners @Walmart @DebraMessing @slpng_giants https://t.co/4bia0Q4ZQP— JustSaki (@JustSaki)1542728108.0
Hyde-Smith's Democratic opponent issued a statement regarding Walmart's announcement.
Espy campaign statement on Walmart's request for a refund from the Cindy Hyde-Smith campaign. https://t.co/4gbtLLweDP— Mike Espy (@Mike Espy)1542743731.0
Meanwhile, Mike Espy made a bit of his own social media news with this encounter with school children.
Got a little campaign boost when I ran into these elementary school students at Millsaps. https://t.co/IwFPPi0P30— Mike Espy (@Mike Espy)1542308569.0
Mississippians return to the polls to decide their Senator on Tuesday, November 27.