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5 candidates now in special US Senate race in Mississippi

April 23, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Two more people filed Monday to run in a special U.S. Senate election in Mississippi, bringing the field of candidates to five.

One candidate filing Monday was state lawmaker Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, who lost a bitter 2014 Republican primary to longtime Sen. Thad Cochran and had already announced that he intended to run for the seat that Cochran left vacant. Cochran, 80, retired April 1, citing health concerns.

The other was Tobey Bartee of Gautier, who had not previously announced for the Senate race and did not immediately respond to a phone message.

Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven, who was in her second term as Mississippi agriculture commissioner, to temporarily fill the Senate seat. She was sworn in April 9.

Hyde-Smith qualified last week for the special election, as did two Democrats — former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy of Ridgeland and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton.

The qualifying deadline is Tuesday.

There are no party primaries for the special election, and party labels won’t be on the Nov. 6 ballot, though candidates make their political affiliation known. If a runoff is needed, it will be Nov. 27. The winner will serve the rest of the six-year term that Cochran started. It ends in January 2021.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already paid for two ads in the special election. One says Hyde-Smith supported putting limits on financial awards in lawsuits. The other criticizes McDaniel for his work as an attorney, saying: “McDaniel made money suing Mississippi businesses, making things harder for folks trying to just earn a living.”

McDaniel has demanded that TV stations stop airing the ad, which he said makes a “blatantly false” claim about his legal career. McDaniel said his firm focuses on municipal law and “protecting corporate clients from lawsuits filed by trial lawyers.”

A McDaniel fundraising email last week called Hyde-Smith a “lackey” for the Chamber of Commerce, which he said supports “amnesty” for people who enter the U.S. illegally. The McDaniel email said: “I don’t need — nor want — the establishment support or their filthy money.”

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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