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The Latest: Man dies before voting, wife returns to vote

November 28, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a U.S. Senate runoff election in Mississippi (all times local):

11:20 p.m.

Election officials say a Mississippi man collapsed and died on the way to vote with his wife who went back later to cast her ballot.

Precinct bailiff Keith Varnado tells The Enterprise-Journal that Emmitt Booth was coming in the door at the South McComb Baptist Church in southern Mississippi to vote Tuesday morning when he collapsed.

He was taken to the hospital where Pike County Coroner Jason Jones says he later died.

But precinct worker Ericka Johnson says his wife, Marie, returned to the precinct later in the day to vote.

Johnson says the wife said that was what her husband would have wanted her to do.

Pike County Election Commission Chair Trudy Berger says Marie Booth’s decision to return to vote is a testament to her sense of civic responsibility.

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10:15 p.m.

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith says she will work hard to represent everyone in Mississippi regardless of whether they voted for her.

Hyde-Smith was speaking to supporters Tuesday after winning the Mississippi Senate race runoff.

She beat Democrat Mike Espy in a race that was marked by racial tensions following her comments praising a supporter by saying: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

She told supporters: “I’m going to work very hard to represent all Mississippians.”

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Hyde-Smith said President Donald Trump called to congratulate her and tell her that he needs her on his team in Washington.

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9:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump is congratulating Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith on her election win.

Trump Tweeted Tuesday night: “Congratulations to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on your big WIN in the Great State of Mississippi. We are all very proud of you!”

Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy to win Tuesday’s runoff. Trump visited the state to campaign for her.

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9:55 p.m.

Democrat Mike Espy says he’s proud of the “historic campaign” he ran and is thanking supporters for their help.

Espy spoke Tuesday after losing the U.S. Senate runoff in Mississippi to Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Espy says he called Hyde-Smith to congratulate her and that she has his prayers.

He says this wasn’t the result he and his supporters were hoping for but adds: “I’m very proud of this historic campaign.”

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9:20 p.m.

Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has won a divisive Mississippi runoff to remain in office.

In Tuesday’s race, 59-year-old Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy, a former U.S. agriculture secretary who hoped to become Mississippi’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

The win allows Hyde-Smith to complete the final two years of Sen. Thad Cochran’s six-year term. Cochran retired in April. Hyde-Smith was appointed to temporarily succeed him.

The win makes her the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.

The runoff was rocked by a video showing her praise a supporter by saying she’d attend a “public hanging” if he invited her. She called it an “exaggerated expression of regard.” The comment made Mississippi’s history of racist lynchings a runoff theme.

President Donald Trump endorsed Hyde-Smith and rallied for her after the comments became public.

Republicans will now hold 53 of 100 Senate seats.

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8:25 p.m.

Supporters of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy are gathered for an election night party at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson.

Espy is trying to become the state’s first African-American U.S. senator since the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. He is trying to unseat Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican who is backed by President Donald Trump.

Hyde-Smith has been serving in the Senate under a temporary appointment since April, when Gov. Phil Bryant chose her to temporarily succeed the retired Sen. Thad Cochran, a fellow Republican.

After polls closed Tuesday night, a diverse group of Espy supporters listened to rhythm and blues music in a room with an oversized American flag hanging behind a lectern where he’s expected to speak.

Espy is a former congressman and U.S. agriculture secretary.

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7 p.m.

Polls have closed in Mississippi as voters in the last midterm U.S. Senate race choose between a Republican backed by President Donald Trump and a Democrat who was agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton.

The race was rocked by incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith’s video-recorded comment praising a supporter by saying she’d attend a “public hanging” if he invited her.

The comments by Hyde-Smith, who is white, cast a spotlight on Mississippi’s history of racist violence. Trump endorsed her, supported her in the wake of the comments, and rallied for her the day before the runoff.

Democrat Mike Espy would be Mississippi’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction. He capitalized on Hyde-Smith’s comments, portraying himself as someone who wouldn’t embarrass Mississippi.

Hyde-Smith was appointed temporary successor to retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in April.

Tuesday’s winner gets the last two years of Cochran’s term.

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6:50 p.m.

The pace of voter turnout was increasing late in the day as Mississippi residents decided a contentious special election for a U.S. Senate seat.

Tuesday’s runoff pitted a Republican backed by President Donald Trump against a Democrat who’s a former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary.

Appointed Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy are competing for the final two years of a term started by retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran.

Observers for the secretary of state’s office estimate that 30 to 40 percent of registered voters are showing up at many precincts. The spokeswoman for the office, Leah Rupp Smith, says that’s higher than earlier in the day.

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6 p.m.

Major League Baseball will set new procedures for vetting political contributions after giving $5,000 to Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi and then asking for the money back after her remarks about a “public hanging.”

Federal Election Commission records show MLB’s political action committee made $472,500 in political contributions from the start of 2017 through this Oct. 17. That included two contributions of $2,500 to Hyde-Smith’s campaign on June 26 and Sept. 24 this year. Her video-recorded remark was released later.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the league’s lobbyists “had a lot of discretion” with political contributions, and there’s “going to be additional oversight here in New York.”

MLB intends to have its legislative affairs committee discuss new procedures before making decisions.

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5:40 p.m.

Some Mississippi voters are shrugging off a Republican Senate candidate’s statement about a “public hanging,” while others say they view it as disqualifying.

The Senate race involving Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy intensified after a video was published showing her praising a supporter by saying she’d attend a public hanging if the supporter asked. Hyde-Smith apologized, saying she meant it only as “exaggerated expression of regard,” and denied she meant any harm toward anyone.

That’s how Libby Moore, a 64-year-old teacher voting in Jackson, is taking the comment. Moore, who is white, says it was “a stupid thing to say” by also says she doesn’t think Hyde-Smith “meant anything racist.”

But 60-year-old Charles Connley of Picayune says the comment “really offended me.” The black man says the comment foreclosed any chance that he would vote for Hyde-Smith.

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11:35 a.m.

Mississippi secretary of state spokeswoman Leah Rupp Smith says turnout for a heated U.S. Senate runoff is “steady but slow.”

Tuesday’s election pitted a white Republican backed by President Donald Trump against a black Democrat who’s a former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary.

Appointed Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy are competing for the final two years of a term started by retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran.

Zakiya (zah-KEE-ah) Summers is an election commissioner in the state’s largest county, Hinds. She says she hasn’t seen long lines.

Hinds County is largely African-American, and high turnout there is important to Espy as he seeks to become Mississippi’s first black U.S. senator since Reconstruction.

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2 a.m.

Mississippi voters are deciding the last U.S. Senate race of the midterms, choosing between a white Republican backed by President Donald Trump and a black Democrat who was agriculture secretary when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

History will be made either way in Tuesday’s runoff: Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith would be the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi, and Democrat Mike Espy would be the state’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

Mississippi’s racist past became a dominant theme after Hyde-Smith praised a supporter by saying she would attend a “public hanging” if the supporter invited her.

Hyde-Smith was appointed temporary successor to retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in April.

Tuesday’s winner gets the last two years of Cochran’s term.

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