Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has defeated Democrat Mike Espy in Tuesday night’s special Senate election in Mississippi, a contest tainted by race-related controversies, NBC News projects.
With 98 percent of votes being reported, Hyde-Smith had 53.0 percent, or 473,109 votes, to 46.1 percent, or 404,640 votes, for Espy.
The Republican incumbent’s single-digit victory in the deep-red state was not regarded by analysts as particularly impressive, while Espy appears to have outperformed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama when he ran for president both times.
Hyde-Smith, who becomes the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi, will serve out the remaining two years of former GOP Sen. Thad Cochran’s term, whom she was appointed to replace earlier this year after he resigned.
With her win in the final contest of the midterm cycle, Republicans will start the new Congress in January with a 53-47 majority in the Senate. The GOP expanded its Senate majority in the midterm elections despite Democrats making a net gain of at least 39 seats in the House, with one race left to be called.
“This is just an unbelievable night,” Hyde-Smith told supporters Tuesday night at a post-election event. “This has been an unbelievable campaign. God above is the reason we’re here, and I’m going to give him glory every single day.”
She thanked President Donald Trump for his support and promised to represent “every Mississippian” regardless of whom they voted for. “I’m going to do my very best to make you proud,” she said.