October 21, 2020

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)