Conservative groups mount late spending push in Mississippi Senate race

Mike Espy

Mike Espy (via Twitter – @espyforsenate)

Tuesday’s special election in Mississippi appears tighter than initially expected thanks to controversial remarks from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), prompting conservative super PACs to open up their pocketbooks.

Conservative outside groups have spent more than $3.2 million in opposition to Democratic challenger Mike Espy since Nov. 11, when Hyde-Smith’s joke about attending a public hanging went viral.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is the biggest spender in that time frame, shelling out more than $1.6 million in media buys. The Senate Leadership Fund added nearly $1.2 million in media buys against Espy.

Hyde-Smith’s “public hanging” remark appeared to provide a slim path to victory for Espy, a former U.S. agriculture secretary and congressman, in the deep red state. But in the following weeks, outside spending has been dominated by conservative groups that want to avoid a repeat of Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama.

Senate Majority PAC has done most of the heavy lifting for Democrats, accounting for all of the $873,792 in media buys opposing Hyde-Smith since Nov. 11. Hyde-Smith was aided by nearly $500,000 in outside spending through the last two weeks, while Espy is supported by less than $330,000.

As of Nov. 7, Hyde-Smith reported raising more than $3.5 million, compared to $2.4 million for Espy.

Hyde-Smith’s remark didn’t initially appear to hurt her fundraising, but several of her donors recently asked Hyde-Smith to return their contributions, including Walmart, Pfizer and Major League Baseball.

Though the millions in outside spending from conservative groups indicate the race is close, the most recent poll — coming from a conservative pollster — has Hyde-Smith leading by 10 points.

Hyde-Smith garnered 41.4 percent of the vote during the general election, while Espy got 40.7 and Chris McDaniel — a second Republican in the race — came in third with 16.5 percent.

President Donald Trump is making several trips to Mississippi to support Hyde-Smith, while Democratic presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris recently traveled the Magnolia State to pump up Espy.

The post Conservative groups mount late spending push in Mississippi Senate race appeared first on OpenSecrets News.

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