WFB: Hollywood celebrities, trial lawyers, and Clinton administration alumni are rushing to underwrite the candidacy of Mike Espy, who is vying to capture a U.S. Senate seat for the Democratic Party in Mississippi.
Espy, the first and to-date only African American to lead the Department of Agriculture, garnered nearly 40 percent of the vote in the Nov. 6 special election to determine the remainder of former Republican senator Thad Cochran’s term.
Running in a crowded field that pit members of all political parties against one another, Espy came in second behind incumbent Republican senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to the seat in March upon Cochran’s retirement. Since no candidate was able to garner more than 50 percent of the vote, both Espy and Hyde-Smith advanced to a run-off to be held later this month.
Espy’s second-place showing and the prospect of a run-off, where turnout is likely to be lower, has ignited Democratic hopes of snagging another Senate seat in the deep South. Those hopes have resulted in a flood of support and campaign contributions from the legal and entertainment professions aligned with the Democratic Party.
In the week between the special election and Nov. 15, Espy’s campaign raised more than $250,000 in part due to out-of-state donors like Chelsea Handler and Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night Live. Both Handler and Michaels have donated $2,500 to Espy’s campaign since the primary. Handler, who backed a bevy of losing Democratic congressional candidates this year, has been particularly active in boosting Espy on social media.
The candidate, who himself practiced plaintiff’s law prior to running for the Senate, has received significant support from trial lawyers. Shortly after the primary results became clear, the American Association for Justice, the nation’s largest association of trial lawyers, donated $5,000 to Espy’s campaign through its affiliated political action committee. The Democrat’s campaign has also received donations from some of the most prominent trial lawyers from California, New York, and Florida.
Espy’s reliance on out-of-state donors ahead of the run-off isn’t surprising, especially considering his campaign has done so throughout the race. more here