Senate Rematch Tops Races to Watch on Quiet Down-Ballot Tuesday

A quiet congressional primary day in Mississippi on Tuesday will likely crystallize a rematch of a competitive 2018 Senate race.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), who’s seeking a full six-year term, is unopposed in the primary, and Mike Espy (D), a former congressman who was Bill Clinton’s first Agriculture secretary, has nominal opposition in his party’s primary.

Hyde-Smith defeated Espy by 7.3 percentage points in a 2018 special election runoff held after Hyde-Smith was appointed to the Senate earlier that year, following the resignation of Thad Cochran (R). In Republican-leaning Mississippi, Espy’s 46.4% was the best showing by a Democratic Senate candidate since 1982.

Still, nonpartisan political analysts again give Hyde-Smith the advantage.

Hyde-Smith had $784,000 in her campaign fund on Feb. 19, compared with $206,000 for Espy, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Photo by Al Drago/Bloomberg
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is headed toward a rematch in November.

What Else to Watch

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R), an Appropriations Committee member who’s in his fifth term representing the southern 4th District, has three primary opponents: Robert Deming, a lawyer and Biloxi city councilman; Carl Boyanton, a businessman; and Samuel Hickman, a former legislative aide to Rep. Trent Kelly (R) of Mississippi’s 1st District.

Deming aired a TV ad that asked Republican voters to “send President Trump a real conservative” who opposes abortion and supports gun rights and a balanced budget. Boyanton self-financed most of the $158,000 his campaign reported in receipts through Feb. 19.

Palazzo won the 2018 Republican primary, 71%-29%, over Army veteran Brian Rose.

Democrats didn’t field a candidate this year in Mississippi’s 4th, which includes Gulfport and Hattiesburg and is strongly Republican.

Mississippi’s other three House members also are favored to win new terms in November: Kelly, who is unopposed in the Republican primary in the northern 1st District; Bennie Thompson (D), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, who has held the 2nd District in Mississippi’s Delta since succeeding Espy in 1993; and Michael Guest (R), who’s in his first term representing the 3rd District in the central part of the state.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kyle Trygstad at; Bennett Roth at