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.”
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.
— Walmart (@Walmart) November 20, 2018
Walmart asks GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith for campaign donation back because of outrage over “hanging” comments. https://t.co/FbxRJG3WvE
— CNBC (@CNBC) November 20, 2018
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.”
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.
— Union Pacific (@UnionPacific) November 20, 2018
Hyde-Smith refused to apologize for either remark.
These are all of the Cindy Hyde-Smith quotes about her “public hanging” comments
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) November 12, 2018
As a result, she found little sympathy online.
People applauded the decision by Walmart.
— Davar (@Dazarbeygui) November 20, 2018
Thanks Walmart for not donating hate
— Larhonda Williams (@Larhond59435196) November 20, 2018
In other news the white nationalist group that gave her money are all good.
— tony phongsy (@SassyHairDood) November 20, 2018
She is the definition of racists. The sad thing is that some people might vote for her to win.
— Fadil Americano (@FadilAmericano) November 20, 2018
And while people appreciated Walmart withdrawing their support, many still chastised the company for ever supporting Hyde-Smith at all.
She said awful things well before your contribution. Thanks for withdrawing, but it might be useful for you to review these candidates before contributing large sums of money. Maybe donate the same amount to a local community that needs the help instead.
— JES (@1liners) November 20, 2018
Walmart most likely did review her candidacy. They just didn’t expect us to.
— wordlass1 (@wordlass1) November 20, 2018
— JustSaki (@Just_Saki_) November 20, 2018
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. pic.twitter.com/4gbtLLweDP
— Mike Espy (@espyforsenate) November 20, 2018
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. pic.twitter.com/IwFPPi0P30
— Mike Espy (@espyforsenate) November 15, 2018
Mississippians return to the polls to decide their Senator on Tuesday, November 27.