Obama endorses Espy in Mississippi Senate race

Obama endorses Espy in Mississippi Senate race

Former President Obama endorsed Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy in the state’s Senate race on Wednesday as the contest garners national attention.

While Espy, a former congressman and Agriculture secretary under President Clinton, is still considered a long shot in his bid to unseat Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), some national Democratic groups are coming to his aid amid some indications the party’s base could come out in force this year and make the Senate race competitive.

“Mike Espy has a great chance to win this election for the Senate and keep Mississippi moving forward. You were finally able to change the flag. Now, you can change your senator, too,” Obama says in a radio advertisement. “Mike Espy for Senate and [Democratic presidential nominee] Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE for president. It’s your time to be heard.”


The former president joins Biden, Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerJudge whose son was killed by gunman: 'Federal judiciary is under attack' Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires MORE (D-N.J.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCan Biden find a third way between Trumpism and Obama-era globalism? Left seeks to influence Biden picks while signaling unity Schwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration MORE (D-Mass.), as well as the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, in backing Espy.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the 44th President of the United States of America. President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSmearing presidential election will turn off young voters and undermine democracy 'Black Panther' star criticized for sharing video questioning COVID-19 vaccine Black voters: Low propensity, or low priority? MORE governed with dignity and effectiveness. He is remembered and will continue to be remembered as a very good president,” said Espy.

The endorsement is a late boost to Espy’s bid to become the first Black person to represent the Magnolia State as a senator in more than a century.

Democrats say the environment is ripe for a competitive race, with Espy still boasting a strong campaign infrastructure from his 2018 race against Hyde-Smith. Espy and Hyde-Smith faced off in a special election two years ago to fill the remainder of former Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Hyde-Smith fends off challenge from Espy in Mississippi Obama endorses Espy in Mississippi Senate race MORE's (R) term. Hyde-Smith is now running for a full term of her own.

Espy will also likely be buoyed by Biden’s candidacy, which showed strength with Black voters in the South during the primary. Other down-ballot candidates also have the potential to excite the base and possibly increase turnout.


Espy also brought in $4 million in the third quarter of 2020, while Hyde-Smith raised nearly $815,000.

Looking to make the race competitive and force the GOP to spend money in a reliably red state, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) have provided field and organization assistance, a move that came after Espy said his campaign was being overlooked by the party’s national apparatus.

Espy’s narrow path to victory will rely mainly on increasing turnout among white suburban voters who are veering way from the GOP and a strong showing among Black voters. Mississippi boasts the largest share of Black voters out of any state in the country at 37 percent.

Still, Espy faces massive headwinds in a state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE won by 18 percent in 2016 and is expected to handily carry again this year. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the Senate race as “solid” Republican.

Obama on Wednesday also released a radio ad boosting Texas Democrat MJ Hegar, who is running to unseat Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Pressure builds as UK approves COVID-19 vaccine Biden brushes off criticism of budget nominee MORE (R).

The ads look to underscore Hegar's service in the Air Force and will air on Black radio stations across the Lone Star State.

"MJ served three tours in Afghanistan as a combat search and rescue pilot, receiving a Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor. She’s also a working mom who knows the struggles families face to afford health care, which is why she’ll fight to protect the Affordable Care Act – progress we all worked so hard to achieve, and Republicans keep trying to repeal," Obama says in the ad.

"Simply put, MJ gets it. That’s why, whether you vote early or on November 3rd, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Democrat MJ Hegar."

The Cook Political Report rates the Texas Senate race as "lean" Republican.