Jones County has a unique opportunity come Tuesday night — there is a chance that 2 percent of the U.S. Senate would be Jones County natives.
Ellisville’s Chris McDaniel, a state senator, is in a four-person race to fill the remaining two years of Thad Cochran’s six-year term, while Laurel native Marsha Blackburn is running for the senate as a representative of Tennessee.
Blackburn is in a heated race with Democrat Phil Bredesen, a former two-term governor of Tennessee. The winner of that race will replace Republican Bob Corker, who served two terms but announced months ago that he would not be seeking re-election. Blackburn is the daughter of Mary Jo and the late Hilman Wedgeworth of Laurel.
But while the senate seat from Tennessee likely will be decided Tuesday night, the open election for Mississippi’s seat likely will go to a runoff in three weeks. The race features selected Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Democrat Mike Espy and military veteran and political newcomer Tobey Bartee.
If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will take place on Nov. 27 with the winner advancing to the U.S. Senate. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Nationwide, all 435 House of Representative seats will be up for grabs, as will 35 U.S. Senate seats. As it sits, the Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate and a 235-193 advantage in the House. Polls — for what they are worth — are showing that Democrats likely will win back the House and Republicans will strengthen their hold on the senate.
But we caution about polls. As political watchers remember, on Election Day 2016, polls and pundits gave Donald Trump almost no chance of winning the presidency. One of the most sourced pollsters, Nate Silver, had the odds on Hillary Clinton winning the presidency at 85 percent. But as we all remember, Trump shocked the political world with his victory over the Democrat Clinton.
In the McDaniel race, pollsters have Hyde-Smith holding about a 10-point lead over Espy with McDaniel a distant third. McDaniel has excoriated Hyde-Smith for her unwillingness to debate if he was on the stage with her and has picked apart her history as a Democrat. Hyde-Smith has hammered home her endorsement from Trump and Establishment Republicans have labeled McDaniel as an opportunist. He was beaten in the 2014 Republican primary runoff after coming within percentage points of unseating Cochran in the primary.
On this Election Day, if you have not gone to the polls yet, please do. But do so as an educated voter who will not blindly cast ballots because of a letter. Vote for the person, not the soundbites or the television advertisements. Those are designed as deceptions. Be educated. Be learned. And, most importantly, be a part of this wonderful representative republic that is the United States.
And who knows, come Wednesday morning, or three days before December, Jones County can say that it produced two U.S. Senators serving at the same time.
That is something in which we can all have pride.