|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
April 9, 2018
Serving with Roger Wicker
|Appointed by||Phil Bryant|
|Preceded by||Thad Cochran|
|7th Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce|
January 10, 2012 – April 1, 2018
|Preceded by||Lester Spell|
|Succeeded by||Andy Gipson|
|Member of the Mississippi State Senate|
from the 39th district
January 4, 2000 – January 10, 2012
|Preceded by||W. L. Rayborn|
|Succeeded by||Sally Doty|
May 10, 1959
Brookhaven, Mississippi, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (2010–present)|
|Democratic (until 2010)|
|Education||Copiah–Lincoln Community College (AA)|
University of Southern Mississippi (BA)
Cindy Hyde-Smith (née Hyde; born May 10, 1959) is an American politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Mississippi since 2018. 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. 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. Hyde-Smith was sworn into office on April 9, 2018. She is the first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress. Hyde-Smith was a candidate in the 2018 U.S. Senate special election for the remainder of Cochran's term, which expired in 2021. 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, becoming the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.
In January 2021, Hyde-Smith joined a group of Republican senators who objected to certifying some swing states' electoral votes as part of an attempt to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election.
Hyde-Smith was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, the daughter of Lorraine Hyde and Luther Hyde, and grew up in Monticello, Mississippi. She attended Lawrence County Academy in Monticello, a segregation academy established in response to Supreme Court rulings ordering the desegregation of public schools. The school's team nickname was the Rebels; the mascot was a "Col. Reb" who carried a Confederate flag.
Hyde-Smith was a member of the Mississippi Senate, representing the 39th District from 2000 to 2012. She had a conservative voting record in the state Senate. On December 28, 2010, she announced that she had switched her party affiliation, from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Hyde-Smith's switch made the Senate equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, with each holding 26 seats.
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce
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. Cochran resigned on April 1, and Bryant formally appointed Hyde-Smith on April 2. Hyde-Smith became the first woman to represent Mississippi in the United States Congress. 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. Hyde-Smith announced that she would seek election to the seat in the 2018 special election on November 6.
The Trump administration reportedly did not support Hyde-Smith's appointment because of her history as a Democrat, but in August, Trump endorsed her candidacy. He stumped for Hyde-Smith in suburban northern Mississippi.
Hyde-Smith declined to debate her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, before the November 6 special election; Cochran had often done the same. After she and Espy each finished with about 41% of the vote, she agreed to debate Espy on November 20. 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.
Antiblack racism controversy
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." She refused to apologize.
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." 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."
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. 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.
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.
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
- Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch
- Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
- Committee on Rules and Administration
Hyde-Smith identifies herself as a conservative Republican. From 1999 to 2010, she served in elected office as a Democrat. She voted in the Democratic primary in 2008 and described herself as having been a conservative Democrat during her tenure in the state legislature. She switched to the Republican Party in 2010.
In 2012, Hyde-Smith endorsed Republican nominee Mitt Romney for U.S. President. 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. She highlighted her support for Second Amendment rights, opposition to abortion, and advocacy for the state's defense business.
FiveThirtyEight, which tracks congressional votes, reported that as of January 2021 Hyde-Smith had voted with Donald Trump's political positions approximately 92% of the time. She has voted with Joe Biden's political positions about 47% of the time as of July 2021. The American Conservative Union's Center for Legislative Accountability, which rates lawmakers by their conservatism, gives Hyde-Smith a lifetime rating of 76.27.
2021 United States Electoral College vote count and storming of the Capitol
On January 6, 2021, Hyde-Smith was participating in the 2021 United States Electoral College vote count debate about the Arizona election when Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol. Led by Ted Cruz, Hyde-Smith joined four other senators to vote to object to the certification of Arizona's electoral votes. 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. 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." She later said she was scared and called the rioters "criminals who need to be prosecuted."
After the Capitol was secure and Congress returned to session, Hyde-Smith objected to Pennsylvania's electoral votes, as led by Josh Hawley. 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. The Jackson Free Press called on Hyde-Smith to "recant or resign" for objecting to the certification.
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.
In 2021, Hyde-Smith expressed opposition to the For the People Act, which would expand voting rights, falsely claiming that the bill would nullify voter identification laws in Mississippi and objecting to allowing people to vote on Sundays, the Christian Sabbath.
Hyde-Smith describes her economic positions as fiscally conservative.
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. Republican opponents of the bill said it could threaten federal defense and domestic programs. She faced criticism from the bill's supporters.
Hyde-Smith supported the Trump-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. As a state legislator, she voted in favor of increasing unemployment benefits and in favor of raising taxes on cigarettes. She also voted with all Mississippi Democrats in the state legislature to restore funding that had been previously eliminated due to budget cuts.
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.
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.
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.
Hyde-Smith opposes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), saying that it "has failed Mississippi." She is in favor of repealing it but says that she supports keeping provisions ensuring protections for preexisting conditions. While in the Senate, she voted to expand the use of short-term health insurance plans, which can discriminate against people with preexisting conditions.
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.
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."
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.
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." 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.
Hyde-Smith opposes abortion. 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. 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. She opposes Planned Parenthood, describing it as "one of the worst things that has ever happened to us."
In 2018 Hyde-Smith released a statement supporting the Trump administration's travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries. Her campaign website says she supports the construction of a wall along the southern US border.
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."
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". 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. 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!"
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. Hyde-Smith attended Lawrence County Academy for her secondary education. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found the school to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 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.
Mississippi State Senate
|Democratic||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||11,944||65.47|
|Democratic||W. L. Rayborn||6,299||34.53|
|Democratic||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||18,091||100.00|
|Democratic||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||13,764||100.00|
|Democratic||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||12,844||79.45|
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce
|Reform||Cathy L. Toole||21,347||2.46|
|Republican||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||214,643||100.00|
|Republican||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||433,295||61.47|
|Democratic||Addie Lee Green||256,766||36.43|
|Reform||Cathy L. Toole||14,852||2.11|
|Nonpartisan||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||368,536||41.53|
|Republican||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||486,769||53.85||−6.05|
|Republican||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||235,463||100.00|
|Republican||Cindy Hyde-Smith (incumbent)||709,539||54.10||+0.25|
- List of American politicians who switched parties in office
- List of party switchers in the United States
- Women in the United States Senate
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There's \"no doubt that's why those schools were set up," said former U.S. Rep Ronnie Shows, a Democrat who was Hyde's junior high basketball coach at Lawrence County Academy in the 1970s.
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Hyde-Smith didn't just go to a school that seemed expressly designed to avoid integration, she also sent her daughter to one of them.
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- Media related to Cindy Hyde-Smith at Wikimedia Commons
- U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith official U.S. Senate website
- Cindy Hyde-Smith for U.S. Senate
- Cindy Hyde-Smith at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- MDAC Commissioner Biography archived official government website
- Financial data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics
- Appearances on C-SPAN