Chris McDaniel supporters jeer, shout down Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith at Neshoba County Fair

Hyde-Smith, the first woman from Mississippi to serve in the U.S. Senate, is being challenged by State Sen. Chris McDaniel for her seat

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) was shouted down as she tried to speak by supporters of her Republican opponent, State Sen. Chris McDaniel, at the Neshoba County Fair on Aug. 2, 2018. Photos by Ashton Pittman.

At the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia on Thursday, the pavilion was packed with supporters of conservative Republican State Senator Chris McDaniel, who is running for the seat currently held by Republican Senator Cindy Hyde Smith.

McDaniel’s supporters waved replicas of the Confederate emblem-bearing Mississippi state flag, and held signs urging Hyde-Smith to join McDaniel for a debate. “Cindy Loves Hillary – BFFs.” Quite a few Republican speakers were met with steely receptions, but none like Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.

As I reported in the Jackson Free Press on Friday:

PHILADELPHIA, Miss.—”Tough crowd,” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant muttered to himself, just before taking the stage at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., on Thursday.

He had just watched the state’s two incumbent U.S. Senators—Republicans Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker—speak before a hostile, jeering crowd that included dozens of supporters for conservative State Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is running to unseat Hyde-Smith in November’s elections.

“I’m darn glad to say I appointed a United States senator that’s a rancher and not a lawyer, and she’s doing one hell of a job,” Bryant said during his speech, defending his appointment of Hyde-Smith, while prodding McDaniel, who has a law practice in Laurel.

Twenty minutes earlier, boos and heckling had overwhelmed Hyde-Smith’s speech, lasting for the duration of her time on stage. “Gun grabber,” one shouted when she spoke of her NRA membership. “You support Planned Parenthood,” another shouted when she spoke of her opposition to abortion. When she praised her predecessor, Cochran, for having done “so many favors for us over the years,” they laughed.

Suppoters of Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) shout and jeer at U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) as she speaks at the Neshoba County Fair on Aug 2., 2018. Photo by Ashton Pittman.

Democratic candidate Mike Espy – who is also running for Hyde-Smith’s seat – received a significantly warmer reception:

Hyde-Smith’s reception was markedly different from that of her and McDaniel’s Democratic opponent, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. Espy received polite applause throughout his speech.

Democrat David Baria, who is running for the seat held by incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker – who McDaniel initially declared a primary campaign against in February before switching to the special election after Senator Thad Cochran retired, was received even better:

“In the Mississippi I know, if a man is not willing to stand toe to toe and defend his beliefs, he does not deserve your vote,” Baria said, earning applause from McDaniel supporters in the crowd. “‘Roger the Dodger’ has a nice ring to it, dutin’it?”

When I asked Senator Hyde-Smith why she thought the two Democratic men received a warm reception while she was met with an onslaught of boos and heckling, her answer was simple:

“Haters are just gonna hate,” Hyde-Smith said to the Jackson Free Press as she stepped off the stage. “That’s what they do.”

Supporters of Sen. Chris McDaniel, however, gave me a slightly different reason. You can read my full report from the Neshoba County Fair here.

The jungle-primary style special election between Republicans McDaniel and Hyde-Smith and Democrat Espy will be held on November 6, 2018. On the same day, Baria will go head-to-head against Republican Wicker in the national midterms.

Watch Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s speech at the Neshoba County Fair:

Written by Ashton Pittman

Ashton is the founder of Deep South Voice. He is also the State Reporter for the Jackson Free Press, where he covers Mississippi politics and campaigns. A Mississippi native who studied journalism and politics at the University of Southern Mississippi, his work has appeared in The Guardian, the New York Times, on, and a number of other outlets. He has made appearances on MSNBC, NPR Radio, and several other broadcast and radio shows. You can follow him on Twitter @ashtonpittman.