MS governor intends to appoint former Democrat to Cochran's Senate seat

State Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde Smith speaks about the positive actions of her department to protect and enhance the lot of the state's farmers during her address at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia Miss.. Known

State Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde Smith speaks about the positive actions of her department to protect and enhance the lot of the state's farmers during her address at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia Miss.. Known

The New York Times reports that Gov. Phil Bryant, R-Miss., is expected to name state agriculture commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, a former Democratic state senator who became a Republican during the Tea Party wave in 2010, to serve as the interim USA senator from MS until a special election is held in November, following Cochran's retirement on April 1.

McDaniel, seeking an anti-establishment message, has been accusing Bryant of letting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or other GOP leaders in Washington pick the state's next senator. He declined, ruling himself out earlier this month.

McDaniel supporters rallied at the MS state capitol last week to urge Gov. Bryant to appoint him to serve as the interim USA senator.

Hyde-Smith grew up in the small town of Monticello in southern MS, and farmer Barbara Lowe, who still lives there, has known her for decades.

"This isn't like a 1970s Democrat".

She highlighted her work as agriculture commissioner, while praising President Donald Trump's work on rolling back regulations, making specific reference to the Waters of the United States rule. The official expressed a preference for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, one of the finalists for the appointment, or the lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, who did not want the job.

"The American dream is alive and well in MS", she said.

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The view in McConnell's orbit is that Bryant would have been the mainstream Republican best-equipped to defeat McDaniel - by far. After him, there was not another obvious choice. Should no one win a majority, the top two-getters will compete in a subsequent run-off November 27. McDaniel had announced previous year that he would be challenging Senator Roger Wicker, who is up for re-election in November, but decided in recent weeks to switch his candidacy to the race for Cochran's seat, a fact that makes it significantly more likely that McDaniel could win the primary and, by extension, the General Election given Mississippi's status as a strongly red state. If no one wins a majority, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff. "The Republican party in the state of MS is sort of struggling right now". They are willing to give Bryant the benefit of the doubt in his choice - but they have not rushed to embrace her.

The conversation was described by two White House aides with direct knowledge of the call.

"She's going to have a very important three-to-four-week period coming out of the gate", said one Mississippi Republican operative deeply familiar with the state, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.

Hyde-Smith is a beef cattle farmer, along with her husband, Mike, and daughter Anna-Michael.

That's why Hyde-Smith's appointment, and presumed candidacy for the seat, is raising eyebrows among some Republicans nationally-namely because Hyde-Smith is a former Democrat.

The attacks are already headed her way.

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