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Hyde-Smith a solid choice, Trump support or not

It is incredibly ironic that President Trump is withholding public support of Cindy Hyde-Smith because she was once a Democrat.

Politico reported that “during a phone call Tuesday, administration officials told Gov. Phil Bryant that Hyde-Smith’s past history as a Democrat would hobble her in the special election contest for the seat being vacated by longtime GOP Sen. Thad Cochran.”

Hyde-Smith switched parties in 2010 while serving in the state Senate.

The obvious worry is that Chris McDaniel will use that previous party affiliation against her successfully. His camp has sent out several statements criticizing her and asking if she voted for Clinton or Obama in the 2008 presidential primary.

But Bryant either didn’t care about Trump’s worries or believes Hyde-Smith can overcome them in November’s special election — or both. Kudos to Bryant for appointing Hyde-Smith and defying Trump’s wishes. Bryant said his decision to appoint her was “mine and mine alone.”

Trump will likely support the candidate who appears to be a winner heading into the race, so if Hyde-Smith wants his endorsement she’s going to need the poll numbers in her favor.

But even without it, Hyde-Smith will make a formidable candidate. She has the backing of the state’s Republican leaders (or most of them), and knows what it takes to win a statewide race.

McDaniel will do his best to stay well to her right, but Hyde-Smith’s positions are likely to be right in line with Mississippi conservatives. It’s not clear on what issue he thinks he can be more conservative than her.

If voters have misgivings about Hyde-Smith’s past, they can look up her voting record while she was in the state Senate.

She was in favor of voter ID and drug court funding. She joined a handful of other senators in voting for a school funding bill that would fully fund education in the early 2000s. She supported medical malpractice reform legislation and teacher pay raises. She sponsored a bill that would allow a vote for city annexation, something that was on Brookhaven’s mind in 2002.

She supported funding the arts school in Brookhaven and keeping it here, the new armory in Monticello, wearing seat belts and raising the tobacco tax.  She received an “A” from the Mississippi Business and Industry Political Education Committee in her final year as a state senator.

For the most part, her record appears to be in line with Mississippi conservatives. McDaniel will do his best to convince voters otherwise but it’s only because he knows he’s got a fight on his hands.