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Could control of the U.S. Senate hinge on Mississippi’s vote in Tuesday midterm election?

NATCHEZ — When the smoke clears after Tuesday’s mid-term elections, Mississippi could find itself in the national spotlight due to a special circumstance on the ballot, potentially leaving control of U.S. Senate uncertain for weeks.

Mississippians will have a rare opportunity to elect two U.S. Senators on Tuesday’s ballot; one position due to the normal election cycle and the second due to a special election.

The special election was caused by the April retirement of long-time U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, who stepped down for health reasons.

Laws regarding the special election to fill the remainder of Cochran’s term require no party primaries be held. On Tuesday, two Democrats and two Republicans will vie for the most votes.

However, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes, the top two vote-getters (without regard to party affiliation) will head to a runoff on Nov. 27.

Recent polls indicate Republican U.S. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to fill Cochran’s seat, is in the lead, with Democratic challenger Mike Espy in second place.

Neither appears to have the support to win outright with the remainder of support split between Tea Party Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel and Democrat Toby Bartee.

With a narrow balance of power likely, a runoff between Hyde-Smith and Espy could mean clear control of the U.S. Senate would not be known for weeks.

“Mississippi could be the deciding factor in who controls the Senate,” Melissa Scallan, Hyde-Smith’s spokeswoman, told a reporter for Reuters recently.

Only time will tell, however, as the midterm election results Tuesday could provide definitive Republican or Democratic party control regardless of the special election for Cochran’s seat.

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