Mississippi Republican overcomes gaffes to win final 2018 Senate race

Ms Hyde-Smith's victory means Republicans will hold a 53-47 majority in the new US Senate

The election was a direct referendum on the president, whose multiple rallies for Hyde-Smith, who has been embroiled in a series of racist exposes, probably helped push the Republican over the finish line. He urged her to apologize for her comment about being willing to join a supporter in the front row of a public hanging, according to a person briefed on the call.

The Republicans pumped resources into Mississippi, and USA president Donald Trump made a strong effort on behalf of Ms Hyde-Smith, holding last-minute rallies in Mississippi on Monday.

Hyde-Smith was seen in another video talking about making voting hard for "liberal folks", and a photo circulated of her wearing a replica Confederate military hat during a 2014 visit to Beauvoir, a beachside museum in Biloxi, Mississippi, that was the last home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

"To the lawless caravans and illegal trespassers marching toward our border, it is very simple: Turn back now, go back home, we will not let you in", Trump said. The final tally isn't in yet but with 88% of precincts reporting, Hyde-Smith leads 54.8% to Espy's 45.2 percent.

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The video sparked a furor in a state with a history of racism and violence against blacks, including lynchings, and fueled Democratic hopes of an upset in a state where 38 percent of the population is black.

Hyde-Smith and Espy emerged from a field of four candidates November 6 to advance to Tuesday's runoff. She said it was "an exaggerated expression of regard". Neither candidate had won the requisite 50 percent in the first round of the special election on Election Day.

During her victory speech, Hyde-Smith promised that she will "represent every Mississippian". Doug Jones successfully employed last year in Alabama to become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from that state in 25 years.

"Mississippi was one of the last two states to have never elected a woman to Congress", said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, according to USA Today. Thad Cochran's six-year term.

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Hyde-Smith, appointed to the seat seven months ago, becomes the first woman elected to the upper chamber from MS, and will finish a term that ends in two years.

She had the backing of the state and national Republican establishment and by Trump throughout the controversies.

When the extended footage of the encounter was released for context, the comment became more troubling because it revealed Hyde-Smith was using the phrase in an attempt to thank a supporter for saying she would fight for him.

Her win on Tuesday means Republicans will hold 53 seats to Democrats' 47 seats in the Senate in January. "She wasn't trying to send any messages". "That really offended me", said Charles Connley, 60, a black voter from Picayune. He was tried and acquitted on 30 corruption charges, but the Mississippi Republican Party ran an ad this year that called Espy "too corrupt for the Clintons" and "too liberal for Mississippi". Remember her Republican opponent in round one was the even more conservative Chris McDaniel, whose voters would not be inclined to vote for Espy.

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