Polls opened on Tuesday for a special runoff election in the state of Mississippi between Republican incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and her Democratic Party challenger Mike Espy. While voters in the state have likely been inundated with calls from representatives of both campaigns, some have also received calls from a former commander in chief.
Former President Barack Obama’s voice was part of a robocall across Mississippi up until Monday night. In the call, Obama urged voters to vote on Tuesday, November 27, in the senatorial runoff election, according to reporting from Political Wire.
Although Obama, a Democrat, is supportive of Espy, he never once mentioned the candidate by name in the robocall. Instead, he merely told voters to make their voices heard by voting.
“My name may not be on the ballot, but our future is, and that’s why I believe this is one of the most important elections in our lifetime,” Obama said in the call. “Make a plan to vote tomorrow. I’m counting on you to be in line to vote before polls close.”
In ordinary circumstances, the election in Mississippi might not have drawn Obama to encourage citizens to vote — the state overwhelmingly picked his opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, in the 2012 presidential election, by a margin of 12 points, per reporting from the New York Times.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 27, 2018
Yet this election has garnered national attention, being the last Senate race in the nation to be determined due to the state’s runoff election rules. Comments by Hyde-Smith, in which she expressed a desire to attend a “public hanging” if a constituent invited her to one, have also drawn more eyes to the outcome of this race, as some have suggested that those remarks were racist in nature.
Espy, who served in the administration of former President Bill Clinton, has used Hyde-Smith’s comments as fodder for his own campaign ads. In one commercial, he said that his opponent’s words do not reflect the values that the state truly holds.
Calling Hyde-Smith’s comments “embarrassing,” the ad also touched upon fiscal concerns.
“We’ve worked hard to overcome the stereotypes that hurt our economy and cost us jobs. Her words should not reflect Mississippi’s values, either,” the ad stated, according to reporting from CNN.
The campaign is especially important given how close partisan control of the U.S. Senate currently is. Following the outcome of the midterm elections, Republicans currently control 52 Senate seats, while Democrats (and independents caucusing with them) have 47 seats. Depending on which way the election in Mississippi leans on Tuesday night, whichever side wins will gain an extra seat in the legislative chamber.