Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy said Tuesday that he will run for the U.S. Senate, setting the stage for a potential rematch against incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Espy became the first African American Congressman from Mississippi since reconstruction when he was elected to the U.S House in 1986. A moderate Democrat, Espy went on to be the Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton.
In a video posted on Twitter, Espy said he came close to winning in 2018 even though he lost to Hyde-Smith by almost eight points in 2018. President Trump won the state by 18 points in the 2016 election.
Hyde-Smith was appointed interim senator to fill Senator Thad Cochran's seat after his resignation in April 2018. The special election in 2018 was to fill the final two years of Cochran's six-year term. Although victorious, Hyde-Smith faced criticism for comments she made about public hanging and voter suppression during the race.
Mr. Trump made a visit to Tupelo, Mississippi ahead of the runoff in 2018 to support Hyde-Smith. The president visited Tupelo again earlier this month to hold a rally for Tate Reeves, the GOP candidate for governor, and brought Hyde-Smith along on Air Force One. Mr. Trump also invited her onstage during the rally at the BancorpSouth Arena.
Mississippi has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1982. Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the Senate, although Democrats hope to make gains in the 2020 elections.
Mr. Trump endorsed Hyde-Smith for reelection on Twitter earlier this year.