The Latest: ‘Steady but slow’ turnout in Mississippi runoff

The Latest on a U.S. Senate runoff election in Mississippi (all times local):

11:35 a.m.

Mississippi secretary of state spokeswoman Leah Rupp Smith says turnout for a heated U.S. Senate runoff is “steady but slow.”

Tuesday‘s election pitted a white Republican backed by President Donald Trump against a black Democrat who‘s a former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary.

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Appointed Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy are competing for the final two years of a term started by retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran.

Zakiya (zah-KEE-ah) Summers is an election commissioner in the state‘s largest county, Hinds. She says she hasn‘t seen long lines.

Hinds County is largely African-American, and high turnout there is important to Espy as he seeks to become Mississippi‘s first black U.S. senator since Reconstruction.

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2 a.m.

Mississippi voters are deciding the last U.S. Senate race of the midterms, choosing between a white Republican backed by President Donald Trump and a black Democrat who was agriculture secretary when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

History will be made either way in Tuesday‘s runoff: Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith would be the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi, and Democrat Mike Espy would be the state‘s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

Mississippi‘s racist past became a dominant theme after Hyde-Smith praised a supporter by saying she would attend a “public hanging” if the supporter invited her.

Hyde-Smith was appointed temporary successor to retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in April.

Tuesday‘s winner gets the last two years of Cochran‘s term.

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