With Thad Cochran’s imminent retirement, Mississippi will soon have a new appointed United States Senator courtesy of Governor Phil Bryant, who tapped Cindy Hyde-Smith, the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, to replace Cochran. She will become the first woman to represent Mississippi in the US Congress.
The seat is a significant one, not because it has been in the hands of Cochran since 1979, but because it was hotly contested in 2014 and rightly won by Chris McDaniel. Cochran lost on primary night, June 3, 2014, but then, with shady tactics, pulled in tens of thousands of Democrats to put him over the top in the runoff three weeks later. The seat rightfully belongs to McDaniel and if anyone has a right to finish the term it is McDaniel.
But Bryant chose to side with the Establishment and not with conservative Mississippi, nor with the 60 percent of Republican voters that chose McDaniel in 2014. He picked not a lifelong Republican but a lifelong Democrat who switched parties not long ago.
Cindy Hyde-Smith was a Democrat her entire life, winning three terms in the State Senate where she served from 2000 to 2012. But in order to run and win a statewide race for Agriculture Commissioner, she switched parties, not out of principle but out of pure political opportunism. She knew she would have a much easier time winning as a Republican than a Democrat.
But, make no mistake about it, in her earlier career she was a hardcore Democrat. Although it’s hard to know who she voted for in General Elections, her voting records show that she voted in every Democratic primary and runoff until her switch in 2011, so we can only logically conclude that she supported the Democratic nominee in the General.
Here are some of the Democratic elections that she voted in since 2006:
Democratic Primary – June 6, 2006
Democratic Runoff – June 27, 2006
General Election – November 7, 2006
Democratic Primary – August 7, 2007
Democratic Runoff – August 28, 2007
General Election – November 6, 2007
Democratic Presidential Primary – March 11, 2008
General Election – November 4, 2008
Democratic Primary – June 1, 2010
General Election – November 2, 2010
The position of her campaign is that she switched parties in 2010, and that may well be true, but she did not vote in a Republican Primary until August 2, 2011.
But now that she’s in the political fight of her life, up against the most conservative of candidates in McDaniel, she’s trying to mold herself into a “lifelong conservative,” hoping voters forget her many years in that other party. Her campaign website is chock full of conservative positions that make her sound just like Senator McDaniel. She’s even trying to steal the spotlight from him on the eminent domain fight, a blatant falsehood if there ever was one.
Soon after the announcement of her appointment, she made sure to let the voters know where she stood now: “I’ve been a conservative forever. And the good thing about that is I’ve been elected twice as a statewide as a Republican overwhelmingly.”
That’s not to say that she doesn’t have any conservative positions; she certainly does. But she also toed the Democratic line as a member of the State Senate. Her voting record shows a fondness for tax hikes, debt, and entitlements. That’s why the former state Democratic Party chairman, Rickey Cole, posted a picture of them together and congratulated her on the appointment, expressing confidence that she will “bring home the bacon” for Mississippi. This makes Hyde-Smith exactly the kind of “Republican” the GOP Establishment loves, one who is closer to a Democrat, and what better way to ensure that than to appoint one to the vacancy.
Bryant and the Establishment leaders who approved of her appointment were counting on President Trump’s help in the November special election. But it’s her past that is the biggest concern for the White House. Some of Trump’s political aides, as well as some prominent National Republicans, are very worried that her history as a longtime Democrat will hurt her chances, especially against McDaniel. An NRSC poll had her in third place, behind McDaniel and Mike Espy. And the rumor is the poll wasn’t even close, which is why Trump is withholding his endorsement and his help.
So, despite other choices, many that were lifelong Republicans, the best that Governor Phil Bryant could do is pick a new Senator who was a Democrat just a few years ago, someone who voted in the Democratic Presidential Primary in 2008, for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and then supported Obama in the General Election that year.
And now they have to work doubly hard to fool enough Mississippi voters into supporting her in November. But even though Hyde-Smith is touting herself as a “conservative Republican,” once in Washington she will be beholden to Mitch McConnell and will not stand up to him the way McDaniel would. And given the track record of Mississippi’s US Senators throughout recent history, she will vote in a similar fashion as Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker – for more spending, more debt, more taxes, and more government.
This is not what most Mississippians want in a US Senator. As Chris McDaniel recently said, “the last thing the state of Mississippi needs in Washington is another moderate Democrat.” And come November 6, the continued Establishment betrayal of conservatives can come to an end.