7 nooses found by Mississippi Capitol before Senate runoff

GettySenator Cindy Hyde-Smith

MS voters will head to the polls in the final midterm race of the election season.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says the nooses were accompanied by handwritten signs referring to Tuesday's election as well as to lynchings - a lot of them in the state's turbulent past, but also one recent case that remains under investigation, of a black man whose body was found hanging in central Mississippi.

But Elizabeth Gallinghouse, 84, from the coastal town of Diamondhead, voted for Hyde-Smith and said neither the "hanging" comments nor Hyde-Smith's appearance in the Confederate hat bothered her.

"When he shows up, of course he's going to fire up the Republican base", said Bobby Moak, the state Democratic Party chairman. Democrats said the remark had racial overtones and harkened back to a darker chapter in MS history, especially since Espy would be the state's first African-American senator since Reconstruction. Cory Booker (D-NJ), both potential 2020 presidential candidates, have visited MS during the runoff election to campaign on behalf of Espy.

Opening a political rally in Tupelo, Mississippi - the birthplace of Elvis Presley - President Donald Trump is joking that people used to say he looked like the king of rock "n" roll. Thad Cochran. But they're convinced that Hyde-Smith will pull out a win, even if it's narrower than it should be. No surprise there. To see her full videos, flip page.

She said the hanging remark was an "exaggerated expression of regard" for the supporter, but the remarks drew sharp criticism in a state with a 38 per cent black population.

Expecting them to say a thing about their clueless support for a person like Cindy Hyde-Smith - a person who stands in plain opposition to the values Major League Baseball likes everyone to believe it holds dear - is, apparently, too much to ask.

On Monday, several nooses were found at the MS capitol in Jackson in an apparent protest against the tone of the election.

The sign also read: 'We need someone who respects the lives of lynch victims'.

On Monday, President Donald Trump held two rallies in the state to support Hyde-Smith and encourage Republicans to get out and vote for her.

"I know her, and I know she apologised, and she misspoke", the Republican president told reporters on his way to the southern state.

Democrat Mike Espy claims momentum in the final days of the MS special Senate election, but Donald Trump heads to the state Monday to blunt it.

So could a Democrat win?

The historic contest features Hyde-Smith, who would be the first woman elected to Congress from MS, against Espy, who's vying to become the state's first black senator since Reconstruction.

"We can't afford a senator who embarrasses us and reinforces the stereotypes we've worked so hard to overcome", one ad for the Democrat said.

The result will finalize the balance of power in the US Senate.

She said Hyde-Smith's remark about hanging "revealed to a lot of people that MS still has a long way to go".

Why is the election still ongoing?

A civil rights group is challenging Mississippi's absentee voting procedures in a lawsuit filed on the eve of the U.S. Senate runoff election. Instead, the race has been upended in the final days thanks to multiple stumbles by the GOP nominee that have dredged up the state's history of racial violence. The former congressman was agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton.

Given the uncertainty about voter turnout, and Hyde-Smith's visible deficiencies as a candidate and public speaker, Republican state and national officials have openly expressed concern that the runoff could produce an upset victory for the Democrat, like that won by Doug Jones in Alabama a year ago, when he narrowly defeated the ultra-right Republican nominee Roy Moore.

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