December 10, 2023

Mike Espy speaks to media after voting at a polling station in Ridgeland, Miss. on Nov. 27, 2018. Jonathan Bachman / Reuters file

Mississippi is one of those states that just cannot get out of its own way. According to a U.S. News 2018 and 2019 reports, Mississippi overall was ranked 48 out of 50 states in the union. In 2017, however, Mississippi was ranked 49 of 50. Guess who has been running the state over the course of this timeframe? Republicans. In fact, it has been nearly a decade of Republicans holding the trifecta of government: control of the governor’s mansion, senate and house. 

Screenshot of of statistics from a report by U.S. News

Republicans are to blame, not the “liberal Democrats” and surely not Mike Espy, a Black man running for U.S. Senate against Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith [MS], who’s nothing but a warm body in Congress: a political pawn for Republicans to move around when they need to protect the status quo. To support Hyde-Smith and white supremacy, Phil Bryant sent out a tweet that was code language for “We [racist a** white people] can’t let this n***** [Espy] and crazy Dems win this seat because we just might get exposed for our inability to lead.” 

This kind of code language is a hallmark move for white supremacists, especially those in power who utilize scare tactics to rally their base, in fear of qualified Black people or people of color being in any form of leadership. None of their reasoning, however, is based on good policy making because their policies do nothing to help people, unless you’re a “gun-toting, build a wall, ‘go back to Africa,’ kind of person. And if you’re one of those, well, who cares. Knowing all that we know, it is hard to understand how one can even fix their “lips” to say something like this as if it won’t take a 1000 years to lift this country out of darkness of slavery, for stealing, raping, killing and pillaging Black people. 

The face you make when you know you been using code language to advance white supremacy. Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images via Vox

Sen. Hyde-Smith is God awful at being a legislator. But before I dive into her record, which can be better described as “inactive,” “latent,” or a “barren desert,” you may know her refusal to apologize for her racist comment in 2018. “If he [Bryant] invited me to a public hanging, I’d be front row,” Hyde-Smith “jokingly” said to a crowd of people. By that account, it’s not far-fetched to believe that Bryant would be stomping for Hyde-Smith in 2020 when you take into account they would be “front row” at a lynching. 

Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Hyde-Smith has not served the people of Mississippi since being elected to office. In 2018, she was dead last in every freshmen category. Granted, it was in the last leg of the 115th Congress, but that still does not exonerate her from her absenteeism and inability to legislate. Check this out. According to, Hyde-Smith introduced the fewest bills among all Senators; was the worst in working across the aisle; had the 2nd most absent votes when compared to Senate freshmen; and least often got her bills out of committee when compared to her GOP colleagues. 

As for 2019, she has introduced more bills or measures, but nothing has been done. From the looks of it, lawmakers on her side of the aisle barely want anything to do with her. I combed through each committee and subcommittee she’s assigned to and still nothing noteworthy. Depending on the nature of a bill, sometimes, legislators would comment on bills under the govtrack section “What legislators are saying,” which I could not find one comment. Not One! Why? For the obvious reason: she has offered hardly anything that is meaningful since being in Congress, especially for the benefit of Mississippians. 

At the end of the day, Republicans completely understand that her vote matters but her policies do not. The GOP Senate is like, “We good, luv. Enjoy.” In other words, you make one wrong move and we’ll primary you in a heartbeat, sis. (See what I did there?)

Mike Espy is a cut from a different cloth. Born and raised in Mississippi, Espy was inspired by his grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Huddleston, Sr. – the son of enslaved parents. Mr. Huddleston’s story is one worth mentioning and serves as a beacon of Hope for Black Mississippians and all Mississippians searching for a brighter day, which they may have never seen. If you go on to Espy’s website, in part, you will find the following:

“In early 20th Century Mississippi, Huddleston organized the largest African American organization in the state, which helped slaves and their descendants improve their lives through education and self-reliance. He also started a newspaper, The Century Voice, which had a circulation over 100,000, and founded the first Mississippi hospital for African Americans.”  

Powerful by any stretch of the imagination.

Photo credit: Mike Espy for Senate

Espy has a proven track record to protect and fight for the people of Mississippi. He served in the Clinton administration’s cabinet as first Black Agriculture Secretary and served in the House of Representatives where he represented Mississippi’s Second Congressional District from 1987-1993, where he was an active member of Congress, unlike Hyde-Smith. If elected, Mike Espy would be the first Black senator elected to the U.S. Senate in Mississippi’s history.

It’s an uphill battle but not as steep as the three prior to 2018. Before Espy came along to run in the special election, no Democrat had even come in striking distance of winning an election. Losing by less than 8 percent proved to pundits and strategists that perhaps the tide may be changing in the longstanding Republican stronghold. In 2019, Mississippi exit polls showed more promise leading into what will be a dog fight for this U.S. Senate seat, despite the fact that Republicans ran the table retaining the trifecta.

From the governor’s mansion to the state legislature and all the way to the U.S Senate, Republicans, like Hyde-Smith and former Gov. Phil Bryant, have had a stronghold on Mississippi for far too long. Health care is the worst. Education is at the bottom. Mississippians are struggling to find ways to climb the ladder with business growth being dead last. Why? The ineffective, toxic, and racist leadership has done nothing but leave generations behind. It is time for a detox, Mississippi. That detox is Mike Espy

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