Cindy Hyde-Smith

Last updated

Cindy Hyde-Smith
Cindy Hyde-Smith official photo.jpg
United States Senator
from Mississippi
Assumed office
April 9, 2018
Servingwith Roger Wicker
Preceded by Thad Cochran
7th Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce
In office
January 10, 2012 April 1, 2018
GovernorPhil Bryant
Preceded by Lester Spell
Succeeded by Andy Gipson
Member of the Mississippi Senate
from the 39th district
In office
January 4, 2000 January 10, 2012
Preceded byW. L. Rayborn
Succeeded by Sally Doty
Personal details
Cindy Hyde

(1959-05-10) May 10, 1959 (age 61)
Brookhaven, Mississippi, U.S.
Political party Republican (2010–present)
Other political
Democratic (until 2010)
Michael Smith
(m. 1996)
Education Copiah–Lincoln Community College (AA)
University of Southern Mississippi (BA)
Website Senate website

Cindy Hyde-Smith (born May 10, 1959) [1] is an American politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Mississippi, in office since 2018. [2] A member of the Republican Party, she was previously the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce and a member of the Mississippi State Senate.


Born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, Hyde-Smith is a graduate of Copiah–Lincoln Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi. In 1999, she was elected to the Mississippi State Senate as a Democrat. She represented the 39th district from 2000 to 2012. In 2010 Hyde-Smith switched parties and became a Republican, citing her conservative beliefs. [3] Hyde-Smith was elected Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner in 2011, the first woman elected to that office.

On March 21, 2018, Governor Phil Bryant announced his intention to appoint Hyde-Smith to the United States Senate seat being vacated due to the resignation of Thad Cochran. [4] Hyde-Smith was sworn into office on April 9, 2018. She is the first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress. [5] Hyde-Smith was a candidate in the 2018 U.S. Senate special election for the remainder of Cochran's term, which expired in 2021. [6] She finished first in the top-two general election on November 6, 2018, but did not receive more than 50% of the vote, thus advancing to a November 27 special runoff election versus Mike Espy. Hyde-Smith won the runoff election, [7] becoming the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi. [8]

In January 2021, Hyde-Smith joined a group of Republican senators led by Ted Cruz [ citation needed ] who objected to certifying certain states' electoral votes. On January 6, she voted in support of objections to the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania. The Senate rejected these objections by 93-6 and 92-7 respectively. [9]

Early life

Hyde-Smith was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, the daughter of Lorraine Hyde and Luther Hyde, and grew up in Monticello, Mississippi. [1] She attended Lawrence County Academy in Monticello, a segregation academy established in response to Supreme Court rulings ordering the desegregation of public schools. [10] The school's team nickname was the Rebels; the mascot was a "Col. Reb" who carried a Confederate flag. [10]

She graduated from Copiah–Lincoln Community College with an Associate of Arts (AA) and the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts (BA). [11]

Mississippi Senate

Hyde-Smith was a member of the Mississippi Senate, representing the 39th District from 2000 to 2012. [12] She had a conservative voting record in the state Senate. [13] On December 28, 2010, she announced that she had switched her party affiliation, from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. [11] [14] Hyde-Smith's switch made the Senate equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, with each holding 26 seats. [13]

Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce

Smith as Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindyhydesmith.jpg
Smith as Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce

Hyde-Smith was elected in 2011 and took office on January 5, 2012. [15] She was reelected in 2015, defeating Democratic nominee Addie Lee Green. [16]

U.S. Senate

Vice President Mike Pence swears in Smith at the Old Senate Chamber in 2018 Mike Pence swears in Cindy Hyde-Smith at the Old Senate Chamber.jpg
Vice President Mike Pence swears in Smith at the Old Senate Chamber in 2018


On March 21, 2018, Governor Phil Bryant announced Hyde-Smith as his choice to fill the United States Senate seat held by Thad Cochran, who indicated he would be resigning the seat at a later date due to ongoing health issues. [17] Cochran resigned on April 1, and Bryant formally appointed Hyde-Smith on April 2. [2] Hyde-Smith became the first woman to represent Mississippi in the United States Congress. [18] The Senate was in a district work period and was not conducting legislative business at that time, so she did not take the oath of office until the Senate reconvened for legislative business on April 9. [19] Hyde-Smith announced that she would seek election to the seat in the 2018 special election on November 6. [20]

2018 special election campaign

The Trump administration reportedly did not support Hyde-Smith's appointment because of her history as a Democrat, [21] [22] but in August, Trump endorsed her candidacy. [23] He stumped for Hyde-Smith in suburban northern Mississippi. [24]

Hyde-Smith declined to debate her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, before the November 6 special election; Cochran had often done the same. [25] After she and Espy each finished with about 41% of the vote, [26] she agreed to debate Espy on November 20. [27] The runoff election was held on November 27, 2018. With nearly 99% of the vote counted, Hyde-Smith was declared the winner with 53.8% of the vote. [28] [29]


During the runoff campaign, while appearing with cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson in Tupelo, Mississippi, Hyde-Smith said, "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be in the front row." Hyde-Smith's comment immediately drew harsh criticism, given Mississippi's notorious history of lynchings and public executions of African-Americans. In response to the criticism, Hyde-Smith downplayed her comment as "an exaggerated expression of regard" and characterized the backlash as "ridiculous." [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]

On November 12, 2018, Hyde-Smith joined Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was asked repeatedly about her comment by reporters. She repeatedly responded, "I put out a statement yesterday, and that's all I'm gonna say about it." [36] [37] When reporters redirected questions to Bryant, he defended Hyde-Smith's comment and changed the subject to abortion, saying he was "confused about where the outrage is at about 20 million African American children that have been aborted." [38]

On November 15, 2018, Hyde-Smith appeared in a video clip saying that it would be "a great idea" to make it more difficult for liberals to vote. [39] Her campaign said Hyde-Smith was obviously joking and that the video was selectively edited. Both this and the "public hanging" video were released by Lamar White Jr., a Louisiana blogger and journalist. [40]

In November it was noted that Hyde-Smith attended a school that was created to avoid court-mandated racial integration and made use of various confederate symbols, and that she sent her daughter to a similar school. [10] [41]


117th Congress (2021-present)

2020 United States Electoral College count and storming of the Capitol

On January 6, 2021, Hyde-Smith was participating in the 2020 United States Electoral College count debate about the Arizona election when Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol. Led by Ted Cruz [ citation needed ], Hyde-Smith joined four other senators to vote to object to the certification of Arizona's electoral votes. [42] She and other senators were removed from the Senate floor to an undisclosed location shortly after the Capitol was breached. Her staff had to shelter in her office. [43] During the attack, Hyde-Smith tweeted, "Whatever frustrations any American may have, violence & destruction in the US Capitol, the seat of our democratic government, is unacceptable." [44] She later said she was scared and called the rioters "criminals who need to be prosecuted." [45]

After the Capitol was secure and Congress returned to session, Hyde-Smith objected to Pennsylvania's electoral votes, as led by Josh Hawley. [46] She said she based her decision on "the erosion of integrity of the electoral process." She also said her constituents "do not believe the presidential election was constitutional and cannot accept the Electoral College decision." Her decision was in contrast to fellow Mississippi senator Roger Wicker, who supported certifying the election. [47] The Jackson Free Press called on Hyde-Smith to "recant or resign" for objecting to the certification. [48]

In response to the attack on the Capitol, Hyde-Smith did not support invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution to remove Trump from office for his role in the attack. She also said she would not vote to convict Trump in an impeachment trial. [49]

Committee assignments

Political positions

Hyde-Smith identifies herself as a conservative Republican. [51] From 1999 to 2010, she served in elected office as a Democrat. She voted in the Democratic primary in 2008 [52] and described herself as having been a conservative Democrat during her tenure in the state legislature. [53] She switched to the Republican Party in 2010.

In 2012, Hyde-Smith endorsed Republican nominee Mitt Romney for U.S. President. [54] In 2018, as a Republican, she faced a primary challenge from Chris McDaniel, who criticized her past Democratic affiliation. Hyde-Smith responded that she had "always been a conservative" and had the support of Republican Governor Phil Bryant. [55] She highlighted her support for Second Amendment rights, opposition to abortion, and advocacy for the state's defense business. [56]

FiveThirtyEight, which tracks congressional votes, reported that as of January 2021 Hyde-Smith had voted with Trump's position approximately 92% of the time. [57]

Fiscal policy

Hyde-Smith describes her economic positions as fiscally conservative. [58]

In 2018, Hyde-Smith was one of 29 Republicans who joined all Democrats in opposing Senator Rand Paul's bill to cut federal spending by 1% over 5 years, known as the Penny Bill. [59] Republican opponents of the bill said it could threaten federal defense and domestic programs. [59] She faced criticism from the bill's supporters. [60]

Hyde-Smith supported the Trump-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. [61] As a state legislator, she voted in favor of increasing unemployment benefits and in favor of raising taxes on cigarettes. [62] She also voted with all Mississippi Democrats in the state legislature to restore funding that had been previously eliminated due to budget cuts. [63]

In May 2019, Hyde-Smith was a cosponsor of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Ben Sasse and Jon Tester intended to reform hours of service for livestock haulers by authorizing drivers to rest at any point during their trip without it being counted against their hours of service and exempting loading and unloading times from the hours of service calculation of driving time. [64]

In July 2019 Hyde-Smith was one of eight senators to introduce the Agricultural Trucking Relief Act, a bill that would alter the definition of an agricultural commodity to include both horticultural and aquacultural products and promote greater consistency in regulation through both federal and state agencies as part of an attempt to ease regulatory burdens on trucking and the agri-community. [65]

Foreign policy

In August 2018, Hyde-Smith co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which would make it a federal crime for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if protesting actions by the Israeli government. [66] [67]

Health care

Hyde-Smith opposes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), saying that it "has failed Mississippi." [68] She is in favor of repealing it but says that she supports keeping provisions ensuring protections for preexisting conditions. [68] While in the Senate, she voted to expand the use of short-term health insurance plans, which can discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. [68]

In July 2019 Hyde-Smith was one of eight senators to cosponsor the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), a bill intended to strengthen training for new and existing physicians, people who teach palliative care, and other providers who are on the palliative care team that grants patients and their families a voice in their care and treatment goals. [69]

In October 2019 Hyde-Smith was one of 27 senators to sign a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer advocating the passage of the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act, which was set to expire the following month. The senators warned that if the funding for the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) was allowed to expire, it "would cause an estimated 2,400 site closures, 47,000 lost jobs, and threaten the health care of approximately 9 million Americans." [70]

Supreme Court

Hyde-Smith and Brett Kavanaugh in July 2018 Brett Kavanaugh and Cindy Hyde-Smith.jpg
Hyde-Smith and Brett Kavanaugh in July 2018

In March 2019 Hyde-Smith was one of 12 senators to co-sponsor a resolution in favor of a constitutional amendment limiting the Supreme Court to nine justices. The resolution was introduced after multiple Democratic presidential candidates expressed openness to expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court. [71]

Social issues

Hyde-Smith's 2018 campaign described her as having a "strong social conservative voting record with a 100 percent pro-life rating [who is] a lifetime member of the NRA." [18] Gun Owners of America, which supports gun owners' rights and is in favor of loosening restrictions on guns, gave her a rating of 50% in 2018. [72]

Hyde-Smith opposes abortion. [73] As a state senator, she authored a bill requiring that all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy be performed in a hospital or ambulatory surgical facility; the bill was blocked by federal courts. [74] In 2018, she voted with Senate Republicans to prohibit federal funding from being given to any organization or facility that promotes abortion services or family planning. [75] She opposes Planned Parenthood, describing it as "one of the worst things that has ever happened to us." [68]

In 2018 Hyde-Smith released a statement supporting the Trump administration's travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries. [76] Her campaign website says she supports the construction of a wall along the southern US border. [77]

In 2012, as the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Hyde-Smith was personally opposed to a same-sex commitment ceremony at the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum, but instructed the museum to allow it after consulting with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. She declared she would seek a change in state law and request from the legislature "clear and straightforward definitions about what activities can take place on the property owned by the State of Mississippi." [78]

Confederate States of America

In 2007, Hyde-Smith voted for a resolution that praised a Confederate States Army soldier for his efforts to "defend his homeland". [79] During her first term in the Mississippi Senate, she proposed renaming a state highway after Confederate President Jefferson Davis, but the legislation did not pass. [80] In 2014 Hyde-Smith posted a photo of herself at Davis's home, Beauvoir, wearing a Confederate cap and carrying a rifle, with the caption "Mississippi history at its best!" [79]

Personal life

Hyde-Smith is married to a cattle farmer, Mike Smith. They are members of the Macedonia Baptist Church. They have a daughter who graduated in 2017 from Brookhaven Academy. [10] [81] [82] [83] [84] Hyde-Smith is a member of the American Cancer Society, the Junior Auxiliary, Hospice, the Mississippi Cattleman's Association, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, the National Rifle Association, Mississippi National Guard Legislative Caucus, and the Copiah Lincoln Community College Foundation Board. [85]

Electoral history


Mississippi State Senate 39th district Democratic primary election, 2003
DemocraticCindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)11,94465.47
DemocraticW. L. Rayborn6,29934.53
Mississippi State Senate 39th district election, 2003
DemocraticCindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)18,091100.00


Mississippi State Senate 39th district election, 2007
DemocraticCindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)12,84479.45
RepublicanEdwin Case3,32320.55


Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Republican primary election, 2011
RepublicanCindy Hyde-Smith144,87352.93
RepublicanMax Phillips96,04935.09
RepublicanDannie Reed32,80911.99
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce election, 2011
RepublicanCindy Hyde-Smith493,41756.91
DemocraticJoel Gill352,21340.63
ReformCathy Toole21,3472.46


Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce election, 2015
RepublicanCindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)433,29561.47
DemocraticAddie Lee Green256,76636.43
ReformCathy Toole14,8522.11


United States Senate special election in Mississippi, 2018
Nonpartisan Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent) 368,536 41.5
Nonpartisan Mike Espy 360,112 40.6
Nonpartisan Chris McDaniel 146,01316.5
Nonpartisan Tobey Bartee12,7071.4
Total votes887,368 100.0
United States Senate special election runoff in Mississippi, 2018
Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent) 486,769 53.85% -6.05%
Democratic Mike Espy 420,81946.15%+8.26%
Total votes907,588 100.0% N/A
Republican hold


United States Senate election in Mississippi, 2020 [86]
Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent) 709,539 54.1% +0.25%
Democratic Mike Espy 578,80644.13%-2.02%
Libertarian Jimmy Edwards23,1521.7%N/A
Total votes1,311,497 100.00%
Republican hold

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Mississippi State Senate
Preceded by
W. L. Rayborn
Member of the Mississippi Senate
from the 39th district

Succeeded by
Sally Doty
Political offices
Preceded by
Lester Spell
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce
Succeeded by
Andy Gipson
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Thad Cochran
U.S. senator (Class 2) from Mississippi
Served alongside: Roger Wicker
Party political offices
Preceded by
Thad Cochran
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Mississippi
(Class 2)

2018, 2020
Most recent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Tina Smith
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Marsha Blackburn