Former Miss America pageant leader decides against GOP primary challenge of Sen. Hyde-Smith


Courtesy Randle StrategiesJosh Randle
Josh Randle, the former Miss America pageant leader who was considering a Republican primary challenge of Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith this year, announced on Wednesday he will not run for office.
Randle, a 31-year-old Oxford resident who previously served as president of the Miss America Organization, formed an exploratory committee in November and publicly announced his interest in the seat, criticizing Hyde-Smith’s reputation following a rocky 2018 campaign and saying “Mississippi deserves better.”
But on Wednesday, just two days before the deadline to qualify for the election, Randle announced he would not pursue the office citing President Donald Trump’s looming endorsement of Hyde-Smith and a quick turnaround before the March 10 primary.
“I concluded that the truncated primary election calendar and the divisive national political environment make this race uniquely difficult,” Randle said in a statement. “Cindy Hyde-Smith’s presidential endorsement and the primary election’s short time frame effectively block the path for any Republican challenger.”
With two days before the deadline to qualify for the seat, no candidate has announced a primary challenge of Hyde-Smith.
Hyde-Smith, who was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant in April 2018 to temporarily serve after Sen. Thad Cochran retired, was elected in a November 2018 special election to serve the remainder of Cochran’s six-year term. That term ends in 2020.
Hyde-Smith faced scrutiny from around the nation during her 2018 campaign after she said at a campaign rally that she would attend a “public hanging.” National reporters descended on Mississippi to cover the special election runoff with former Democratic Congressman Mike Espy, a black man who contextualized Hyde-Smith’s comments with the state’s bitter history of lynchings on the campaign trail.
She officially kicked off her 2020 campaign last week, giving a fiery speech to supporters and boosting her conservative bonafides.
“I think you can tell I am ready for this campaign,” she said.