Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is facing backlash as she heads into a midterm election runoff slated for Nov. 27 against Democratic opponent Mike Espy, who is African American. Hyde-Smith “joking” about attending “a public hanging” — a method of domestic terrorism that killed hundreds of Black people in Mississippi — has resulted in major companies withdrawing their support.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retail chain, (a DiversityInc Noteworthy company), has asked for its money back, a $2,000 contribution made to Hyde-Smith earlier in the campaign. “Will and Grace” actress Debra Messing confronted the company in a tweet.
Walmart replied to Messing on Tuesday:
Hi Debra. Completely understand your concern. Sen. Hyde-Smith’s recent comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates. As a result, we are withdrawing our support and requesting a refund of all campaign donations.
— Walmart (@Walmart) November 20, 2018
According to CBS News, “A Walmart spokeswoman clarified that the company’s PAC made a $2,000 donation on Nov. 8, two days after the general election and several days before the video of Hyde-Smith’s comments first surfaced.”
Walmart is the third company in the past two days that has asked for a refund of their campaign contributions. On Monday, Union Pacific, a railroad giant, and Boston Scientific, a medical device manufacturer, both paved the way in withdrawing their support of Hyde-Smith.
The controversial comment by Hyde-Smith occurred on Nov. 2, while attending a campaign event in Tupelo, after Colin Hutchinson, a local cattle rancher praised her, said that if he “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
Hyde-Smith said the comment was not a racial connotation, but an attempt at humor. Unfortunately, for Hyde-Smith, nobody is laughing. She has been further criticized because she has not apologized for the comment.
Democratic Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California have stepped up to back Espy.
“People know there’s a runoff. They know we’re competitive; they know that we can win — and now, there’s a passion,” Espy said in an interview. “It started on the night of the election, but it got more intense as people learned what she said.”
Current predictions in the Mississippi Senate election, as of Tuesday, show Hyde-Smith still holding a sizable lead.
Reader Question: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith hasn’t apologized for her comment. Can she still effectively represent those in the state offended by her comment