Regular as clockwork, the Establishment moved early to try to boost US Senate-designate Cindy Hyde-Smith’s candidacy in the November special election. The political “experts” at Y’all Politics listed seven reasons why Phil Bryant chose Mrs. Hyde-Smith for the vacant Senate seat. But these “qualifications,” if you will, qualify as myth much more than fact:
She was “early Trump”
Just as they did with Wicker, the Establishment is trying to wrap Trump around Cindy Hyde-Smith by pointing out that she advised his campaign on agricultural issues. “Between that and Bryant’s support and endorsement, it’s hard not to believe that a Trump endorsement of her would follow.”
Wrong! The White House came out immediately in opposition to her candidacy. Headline articles for the Washington Post, CNN, and Politico revealed the displeasure not only from Trump and his team but also from National Republicans. The reason is simple: They don’t think she can beat Chris McDaniel.
According to Politico, “In recent days, the White House and other senior Republicans reviewed polling conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee showing Hyde-Smith in third place in a prospective match-up, trailing McDaniel and a prospective Democratic candidate.”
So, she’s third in a three-way race. It doesn’t take a political genius to understand that her present position is as bad as it gets in politics.
Her voting record in the state senate and her performance as Ag Commissioner is conservative
The Establishment is already out in force to prove to Mississippi voters that Hyde-Smith is a conservative. She’s even billing herself as a “lifelong conservative.” Her backers contend that she is solid on “America First” issues.
Y’all Politics even went so far as to say this: “She was famously to the right of McDaniel on the eminent domain vote overturning Haley Barbour’s veto when she told her colleagues supporting Governor Barbour that ‘You need to get you a pair of asbestos underwear. You’re going to need it because somebody is going to light up your rear end.’”
That’s it? One quote puts her to the right of Chris McDaniel, who led the fight against Haley Barbour on eminent domain! McDaniel squared off against Barbour, who then turned his ire on McDaniel, not Cindy Hyde-Smith. This is a blatant lie out of the mouths of the Establishment.
A quick look at Cindy Hyde-Smith’s voting record in the State Senate, where she served as a Democrat, is not very conservative. She voted for many Democratic proposals: new debt bills, new taxes on tobacco every time it was offered, an expansion of Medicaid with a new hospital bed tax, and for increases in unemployment benefits, to name but a few.
Not to mention the fact that former Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole has already praised her appointment and is confident that she, like Thad, will “bring home the bacon.” I’m sure that was an unwanted “endorsement” and will be nearly impossible to hide.
If Cindy Hyde-Smith wants to run as a conservative, she’s going to have to out-conservative Chris McDaniel, and no one can do that. The Establishment has only spent the last few years trying to convince voters that McDaniel is TOO conservative. It’s going to be next to impossible for her to try to steal any of McDaniel’s thunder, let alone any of his voters.
She takes the state flag issue completely off the table
For the “experts,” she has what amounts to “the same position on the state flag as Governor Bryant, which is essentially that the people voted in 2001 on that issue and that it will only change if Mississippians vote to change it.” And this takes away an issue from McDaniel, they say.
Wrong again! McDaniel has strong support from vocal flag supporters and he has taken a more principled stand on the flag issue than any officeholder in the state. Hyde-Smith doesn’t really have a position. In fact, in 2015, she refused to answer a flag question in a questionnaire from the Clarion Ledger. That’s not very principled and hardcore flaggers, conservatives all, won’t like it one bit.
She has an activated base of supporters in the agriculture community
This much is true but that’s not going to carry her to victory, nor is it a major part of what US Senators do. Other issues are far more prominent, like entitlements, foreign affairs, the future of the Supreme Court, and the budget. She’s going to have to campaign on more than ag issues.
She compares favorably to both Chris McDaniel and Mike Espy
In this interesting category, she is put into league with the other candidates and is “strong where they are weak.” She is “‘squeaky clean’ in ways that a campaign messaging will likely contrast with Mike Espy, who was forced to step down as Agriculture secretary during the Bill Clinton administration.”
But it seems as though she might compare more favorably with Espy than McDaniel. There are rumors about her close involvement in the state’s beef plant fiasco (she and her husband raise beef cattle, by the way), which cost the taxpayers $55 million. Not there’s any graft or corruption involved but this was a complete boondoggle. Will that hang around her neck for the entire campaign? How will Mississippi voters react to that? Not positively I’m sure, depending on what comes out.
McDaniel, though, has no corruption in his background. None. And, what’s more, he has fought against many state boondoggles, and has been criticized heavily for it over the years.
She is not “overly establishment” and will work hard
Let’s start with work ethic first. I’m sure Hyde-Smith is a hard worker but she’s going to be hard pressed to outwork Chris McDaniel, something I am very familiar with. His barnburner of a campaign in 2014 is proof of that.
As for the “Establishment” issue, the Establishment is going to try to paint her as non-Establishment. But she has no federal money at the moment and will have to pull double-duty as a new Senator AND campaign for the election in November. She will likely have to rely on PAC money from none other than the hated Mitch McConnell, who will also work hard to keep McDaniel out of DC. When she takes one cent of money from McConnell’s machine, then she’s Establishment to the core. In addition, she will have to cast some tough votes between April 1 and November 6. And keeping McConnell happy will be her main priority, rest assured.
She is historic as the first woman senator from Mississippi
Yes, she is a historic choice BUT will that automatically give her the “women vote”? I think not.
This should turn out to be a very exciting, and I hope, a relatively clean campaign on the issues. But the clear advantage is with Chris McDaniel, as the only true Republican and conservative in the race. He has a large bloc of voters that will support him no matter what. To win, Cindy Hyde-Smith will, most likely, have to take votes from McDaniel’s base and that is one tall order, and one she won’t pull off.