This time, Chris McDaniel was beaten “fair and square.”
The state senator from Ellisville conceded the special U.S. Senate election to about 200 supporters at an election night gathering in Laurel, urging Mississippi Republicans to galvanize around Cindy Hyde-Smith in her runoff with Democrat Mike Espy.
McDaniel, who lost a bruising senate fight in 2014 to Thad Cochran, finished a distant third in the race to fill the remaining two years of Cochran’s term. Unofficial results had Espy and Hyde-Smith within 400 votes of one another, with Espy holding the lead.
Both tallied about 41 percent of the vote with 79 percent of the precincts reporting. Espy garnered 264,525 votes to Hyde-Smith’s 264,133 votes. McDaniel finished third with 110,669 votes and political newcomer Tobey Bartee tallied fewer than 10,000 votes.
McDaniel easily won his home county with 10,474 votes to Espy’s 5,921 and Hyde-Smith’s 4,554.
“This was not like 2014,” McDaniel said. “When President Donald Trump endorsed Cindy Hyde-Smith, we knew we had a full plate. We knew that. He is the president of the United States and he is worthy of our respect.
“But now, we have to unite. Mr. Espy cannot be allowed to win this seat. The president wants us to unite — and we will unite. We will get behind Cindy Hyde-Smith.”