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Dem contrasts ‘diversity’ with GOP senator in Mississippi

AP Photo / Wagster Pettus

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Democrat running for U.S. Senate in Mississippi says he would bring experience of “diversity” and “inclusion” to the job, and he thinks the Republican he’s trying to unseat has a background lacking in those qualities.

Democrat Mike Espy spoke Saturday about how he and his twin sister were among the 17 black students who integrated the all-white Yazoo City High School in 1969, graduating in 1971.

An independent newspaper, the Jackson Free Press, reported Friday that Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is white, attended a white private school founded in 1970, the year many Mississippi public high schools integrated. She graduated from Lawrence County Academy in 1977.

Hyde-Smith campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan responded to the report about Hyde-Smith’s high school attendance by saying: “In their latest attempt to help Mike Espy, the gotcha liberal media has taken leave of their senses. They have stooped to a new low, attacking her entire family and trying to destroy her personally instead of focusing on the clear differences on the issues between Cindy Hyde-Smith and her far-left opponent.”

Espy said he was called “the N-word” many days during integration.

“I guess you could juxtapose my experience with her experience,” Espy told The Associated Press between his campaign appearances Saturday in Jackson.

“If the story is correct, she consciously made a decision to separate, and my parents consciously made a decision to be inclusive,” Espy said. “So, that’s a Mississippi I want to be a part of — one of diversity, one of inclusion, one of different experiences. ... I decided to use that very difficult time to learn from and try to reach out to people of all races. So, if you compare me and that experience to Cindy Hyde and her experience, I’d rather have my experience.”

The hard-fought Senate race is expected to drive a higher-than-usual turnout for a runoff in Mississippi. President Donald Trump is set to travel to the state for two rallies with Hyde-Smith on Monday.

More than 43,000 absentee ballots have been requested for the runoff, and that number could increase as circuit clerks continue compiling information, the Mississippi secretary of state’s office said Saturday.

About 69,000 absentee ballots were requested before the Nov. 6 election. There’s typically a large decrease in ballots cast between the first election and a runoff.

NEWS SOURCE: Associated Press


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