Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy met with supporters and even danced with a few as he stumped at the East McComb Activities Field on Saturday in one last campaign swing before today’s election.
Espy, a former congressman who also served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under former President Bill Clinton, is in a rematch of a 2018 election against Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, which he lost by less than 10% of the vote.
“I feel really good. We have tremendous energy, particularly in this area, and polling looks good. (Internal) polling shows us tied,” Espy said.
A poll released last week shows Hyde-Smith leading by 8%, although Mississippi’s Senate race is one of a handful of contests that are seen as competitive and could sway the balance of Senate leadership.
He said education, jobs and health care are three issues facing Mississippi that desperately need attention, ranking affordable health care at the top of that list.
“Mississippi was last 66 years ago when I was born,” he said. “Now, as I stand here 66 years old, we are still last — last at jobs, last at income. We are last in health care. We are last in educational attainment.
“So I’m here today in McComb to ask you a question. Aren’t you tired of being last? Aren’t you tired of having less? Don’t you want more? Don’t you deserve more? Aren’t you tired of having to suck it up every day and say, ‘Well, it’s good enough?’ ”
Espy mentioned a woman who died of an asthma attack because the hospital in Chickasaw County closed. He talked about his own experience with asthma.
“How come with all the improvements with medical science ... that we have now that I didn’t have then, that she died last year and I lived six decades ago?” he said. “The reason is when she went to her emergency room, it was closed. When I went to my emergency room, it was open.”
Espy said Hyde-Smith wants to go back to the “good old days” of Mississippi.
“We have different visions of what Mississippi ought to look like in the 21st Century. She wants to have the Mississippi of old,” he said, mentioning a photo of Hyde-Smith wearing a Confederate uniform and holding a rifle. “She said it was the best of Mississippi’s history. It’s not.”
Espy said Hyde-Smith’s refusal to debate him is a disservice to voters.
“It is pretty obvious she disrespects the voters in Mississippi. She is even disrespecting her constituents because we would be talking about her record,” he said. “When she can’t defend her record, I don’t know what to say about someone like that.”
He said the debate is not the only way Hyde-Smith has been absent and claimed Hyde-Smith does not frequently meet with her constituents.
“Imagine a senator like Cindy Hyde-Smith, who has had no town meetings since she has been in office. I didn’t say not many. I said none,” Espy said.
Espy cited a report from the Center for Effective Lawmaking from the University of Virginia that ranks his opponent as 52 out of 54 in effectiveness.
“When I call her ineffective and uniquely awful, I am not hating on her, I am hating on her record,” he said.
As Espy left McComb on his way to the Gulf Coast to deliver PPE to residents affected by Hurricane Zeta, he thanked his supporters for wearing masks and staying six feet apart during the gathering.
“Because you know until we get a vaccine, this is what we are going to have to do because my mask protects you, and your mask protects me,” he said.