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Cindy Hyde-Smith is about to become Mississippi’s first female U.S. senator

Cindy Hyde-Smith is expected to become Mississippi’s first female U.S. senator Wednesday and will accept Gov. Phil Bryant’s appointment during a ceremony in her hometown of Brookhaven, according to The (Brookhaven) Daily Leader.

Hyde-Smith, Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce and a former Republican state senator, will fill the seat left vacant by the impending retirement of Sen. Thad Cochran until November’s special election. Hyde-Smith’s appointment will further bolster the record-breaking number of women currently serving in the U.S. Senate, which hit an all-time high of 22 earlier this year.

Elected in 2011, Hyde-Smith, 58, made history as the first woman to hold the office of state agriculture commissioner. She had a 12-year career as a state senator in District 39.

Hyde-Smith’s time in the state senate allowed her to serve as a fierce advocate for Mississippi farmers and ranchers, serving as chairperson of the Agriculture Committee for most of her tenure.

Hyde-Smith is also an advocate for women in leadership, saying in 2017 “women tend to offer a unique perspective when it comes to establishing a vision for the future and vetting possible solutions. In many instances, women tend to guide the human side of decision making and can patiently weigh all the circumstances.”

In a 2015 interview with the Delta Business Journal, Hyde-Smith admitted she wondered if “Mississippi was ready” for a woman as agriculture commissioner when she ran for the position in 2011.

“When it came to agriculture, I couldn’t help but wonder if my being a woman would be an issue. But it wasn’t,” she said. “There are so many issues that concern farmers that they need a voice, a strong voice, and it doesn’t matter whether that voice comes from a man or a woman, as long as it’s sincere.”

Appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant, Hyde-Smith will hold Cochran’s seat until November when she’ll face off against Chris McDaniel in the special election. McDaniel initially launched his Senate campaign as a race for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, but announced last week he’d seek Cochran’s seat instead in a move Bryant called “opportunistic behavior [and] a sad commentary for a young man who once had great potential.”

Hyde-Smith is a beef cattle farmer, along with her husband, Mike, and daughter Anna-Michael.

Two other Mississippi women—Republican state Sen. Sally Doty and business leader Morgan Dunn—are also making a run for Congress this year in vying for Rep. Gregg Harper’s U.S. House seat.

(Featured Photo: Katie Williamson for The Daily Leader)

Director of Content Development Magnolia State Live
Alex McDaniel is the director of content and audience development for Magnolia State Live. She’s also the editorial director at Oxford Newsmedia, where she oversees The Oxford Eagle, Oxford Magazine and special publications.
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Director of Content Development Magnolia State Live
Alex McDaniel is the director of content and audience development for Magnolia State Live. She’s also the editorial director at Oxford Newsmedia, where she oversees The Oxford Eagle, Oxford Magazine and special publications.

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