McDaniel won’t yet pledge support to Hyde-Smith in runoff scenario

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In an interview with Mississippi Today, U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel would not say whether he’d support Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith or Democratic candidate Mike Espy in the event of a special election runoff in late November.
Political experts have speculated that Mississippi could be one of the states that decides control of the U.S. Senate, where Republicans now hold a majority. Because the race to replace retired U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran is a special election, a runoff would take place if no candidate receives a majority of votes.
McDaniel, whose Senate campaign has focused on delegitimizing Hyde-Smith’s conservative values by pointing out her former Democratic Party affiliation, declined to commit to supporting Hyde-Smith, a fellow Republican, if he missed the runoff.
Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi TodaySen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) speaks to supporters during a Farmers for Cindy Hyde-Smith event at Wade Inc. in Greenwood Friday, September 7, 2018.
“From where I’m standing today, knowing what I know, they’re both philosophically very much alike. But because of Mr. Espy’s past indictments and his past direct work with the Clinton administration, that causes me grave concern,” McDaniel said when asked which candidate he would support if he fails to make it into a runoff.
“Now, Cindy voted for Hillary (Clinton) but she was never indicted. Granted, I recognize that sometimes indictments take place, but it’s my understanding that he accepted the bribe. Because of that, sitting here today, that causes me grave concern.”
As a Democratic state senator, Hyde-Smith voted in the 2008 Democratic primary, but says she does not remember if she voted for Clinton or Barack Obama, who beat Clinton for the Democratic nomination and won the election.
The indictments McDaniel referenced go back to Espy’s time as agriculture secretary in the 1990s, when a grand jury indicted him for improperly accepting gifts (not bribery, as McDaniel