The appointment a historic first, Hyde-Smith will become the first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress, and its first female U.S. senator. A former Democrat-turned-Republican, Hyde-Smith currently serves as the Magnolia State’s Agricultural Commissioner.
Hyde-Smith’s appointment to the Senate brings the total number of women serving in the upper chamber to 23. Vermont is now the only state yet to send a female congressional member to Washington.
Hyde-Smith will hold the seat ahead of a special election in November to replace Cochran, who announced his retirement in early March due to health concerns.
Announcing her appointment to assume Mr. Cochran’s seat, Gov. Byrant told reporters:
“(Hyde-Smith) will serve the U.S. Senate with honor. We need all Mississippians to stand with us if we are to succeed.”
Accepting her appointment in a speech in Brookhaven, Miss., Hyde-Smith told a crowd:
“I’ve been conservative all of my life, and that’s demonstrated by my conservative voting record as a three-term state senator and my conservative accomplishments as agriculture commissioner.”
Bryant’s choice of Hyde-Smith came over the objections of the White House, sources say. According to Politico, President Trump disapproved of Hyde-Smith in large part because of her past Democratic Party affiliation, which the administration fears will be used as a weapon in the November special election.
Born in Brookhaven, and raised in nearby Monticello, Hyde-Smith is a fifth-generation cattle farmer. Hyde-Smith served in the Mississippi state Senate for 12 years, first as a Democrat and switching to the GOP in 2010.
The 58-year-old Hyde-Smith was elected agricultural commissioner in 2012.
[Mississippi Today] [NPR] [Politico] [Photo courtesy Clarion Ledger]