Y’all Politics asked each of the candidates for U.S. Senate in Mississippi for their responses to the following questions related to the 2020 race. Incumbent Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Democrat Mike Espy and Libertarian candidate Jimmy Edwards will be on the ballot. 

The campaigns were notified on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, and were given until Friday, October 2, 2020, at noon to respond.

Mike Espy’s campaign staff ignored over a dozen calls, texts, emails, and Twitter/Facebook Direct Messages from Y’all Politics to submit responses for this questionnaire. The Espy campaign declined to respond.

 

We place that refusal to respond in the context of Espy’s answer for each question.

Curiously, in response to another publication on September 25th, Espy, in fact, chided Hyde-Smith about her refusal to answer questions.

All responses below are unedited and shared with you in the same style as they were provided to Y’all Politics by the candidate or their campaigns.

President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the current vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.  As Senator, would you vote to confirm Judge Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court prior to the end of 2020?  Why or why not?

Hyde-Smith:

Yes. Amy Coney Barrett is a supremely qualified judge, who has earned her reputation as a brilliant legal scholar, a strict constitutionalist, and a jurist wary of legislating from the bench. President Trump was correct and well within his constitutional duties in nominating Judge Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy. I will fulfill my own constitutional “advise and consent” responsibilities during the confirmation process this year.

Edwards:

If I were a sitting Senator, I would vote to confirm President Trump’s current appointment to the Supreme Court as quickly as possible. From what I have found out about her, she supports ensuring freedom and liberty for all Americans; and she is one who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.

Espy:

Mike Espy’s campaign staff ignored over a dozen calls, texts, emails, and Twitter/Facebook Direct Messages from Y’all Politics to submit responses for this questionnaire. The Espy campaign declined to respond.

Civil unrest from protests this summer has resulted in billions of dollars of personal and property damage and injured hundreds in cities such as Seattle, Washington DC, New York, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Los Angeles.  Calls have come to “Defund The Police” in many of these locations.  What is the right balance between peaceful protesting and maintaining law and order, and what role, if any, should the federal government play? 

Hyde-Smith:

The demands to defund the police are irresponsible and dangerous. While the Bill of Rights justifiably protects our ability to peacefully protest, that’s not what Americans have experienced in the destruction of public property, the looting of family-owned businesses, and the unchecked violence. I believe it’s time protesters end this destruction, put aside the dangerous “defund the police” rhetoric, and focus on the real solutions that will drive justice forward. Shortly after George Floyd’s death, I joined Senator Tim Scott to co-sponsor the JUSTICE Act, which incorporated broad bipartisan reforms such as better training on de-escalation, more transparency, and greater law enforcement accountability, among other things. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats unanimously blocked this strong bill that would have enacted many of the responsible public safety changes Americans support.

Edwards:

Defunding the police at the local level will set a dangerous precedent for calls to defund sheriff’s departments at the county/parish level and state highway patrols/departments of public safety. The guarantee of a militia in the 2nd Amendment can easily be applied to law enforcement as well as the military. As a Libertarian, I oppose the use of force to obtain the policies I back; and would only support the Federal Government’s role in maintaining peace if the provisions of the War Powers Act are followed to the letter. The members of our Armed Forces take an oath to defend us against foreign AND domestic enemies. In a worst case scenario we deserve their defense as groups engaging in rioting have purposes beyond making sure people of color have equal opportunities.

Espy:

Mike Espy’s campaign staff ignored over a dozen calls, texts, emails, and Twitter/Facebook Direct Messages from Y’all Politics to submit responses for this questionnaire. The Espy campaign declined to respond.

 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have insinuated that if Judge Barrett gets confirmed to the Supreme Court before the next Presidential inauguration that they might be willing to “pack the court” with additional justices other than the traditional nine justices the Supreme Court has kept for 150 years.  Would you support or oppose any efforts to increase the number of Supreme Court Justices during the next presidential administration?

Hyde-Smith:

I will oppose any efforts to pack the court, because in the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Nine seems to be a good number.” It’s been that way for a long time. I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.  Let’s be clear that packing the court is all about power, not principle —the power to chip away at our 2nd Amendment rights and religious freedoms.  Last year I cosponsored Senator Rubio’s constitutional amendment (S.J.Res.14) to limit the Supreme Court to nine justices.  The Supreme Court has had nine seats since 1869.  Having nine justices seems to have been working for the past 151 years.  I don’t see a reason why that needs to change now.

Edwards:

First of all, the Legislative Branch needs to follow the Constitutionally-mandated procedure for making an amendment. Personally, I am opposed to such a change for a couple of reasons. 1) Adding additional justices to the Supreme Court means an increase to our already out-of-control budget, deficits, and national debt. 2) “Packing the Court” already failed during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. 3) For too long liberal judges have had the propensity to legislate from the bench instead of rightfully interpreting the laws of the land. 4) We already have a Legislative Branch that makes laws; and our Judicial Branch needs to stick to its Constitutional mandate to interpret laws.

Espy:

Mike Espy’s campaign staff ignored over a dozen calls, texts, emails, and Twitter/Facebook Direct Messages from Y’all Politics to submit responses for this questionnaire. The Espy campaign declined to respond.

 

Where do you stand on the abortion issue and should that be a litmus test for a Supreme Court confirmation?

Hyde-Smith:

I believe all children, including the unborn, are guaranteed the right to life by our Creator. I respect the sanctity of life and will continue to confirm pro-life judges who are committed to applying the law and not making it.

Edwards:

Abortion should not be the only litmus test applied to any potential judge at any level of Government. While I am against abortion except when medically necessary to save the mother’s life, I strongly believe that the same freedoms you and I enjoy must also be extended to the unborn. As I mentioned earlier, the sole litmus test I would enforce is that of a track record of interpreting the law and ensuring freedom and liberty to the highest extent possible.

Espy:

Mike Espy’s campaign staff ignored over a dozen calls, texts, emails, and Twitter/Facebook Direct Messages from Y’all Politics to submit responses for this questionnaire. The Espy campaign declined to respond.

 

The future of healthcare is a huge issue for voters.  Do you support abolishing private insurance in favor of a fully government-run Medicare for All healthcare system?

Hyde-Smith:

No. I strongly oppose a government-run, Medicare-for-All healthcare system. Obamacare was Joe Biden and the Democratic Party’s first step toward a full government takeover of healthcare.  President Obama said, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.”  That turned out not to be true at all, as many Mississippians saw their plans eliminated and their doctors removed from their networks, all while prices increased and choices decreased. I believe this disastrous program must be repealed and replaced with a common sense, patient-centered plan that protects those with pre-existing conditions and finally offers Mississippi families affordable health insurance coverage.

Edwards:

No. My platform on healthcare reform not only includes a complete repeal of Obamacare; but also opportunities for individuals entitled to employer-provided plans, Tricare for our men and women in uniform, and individuals eligible for Medicare Part B options to purchase more economical plans than these. I would reserve Medicaid for those who need it the most–specifically anyone with a family income of 100 percent or less than the Poverty Line, calculated on a state-by-state basis.

Espy:

Mike Espy’s campaign staff ignored over a dozen calls, texts, emails, and Twitter/Facebook Direct Messages from Y’all Politics to submit responses for this questionnaire. The Espy campaign declined to respond.

 

Do you think the Electoral College structure as enshrined in our Constitution is the right way to choose the President or do you think we should seek to amend the Constitution and move to a popular vote for selecting a President?

Hyde-Smith:

Our Founding Fathers designed an electoral system that ensured Americans – both rural and urban – would have a voice in our democracy. The Electoral College plays a critical role in preserving that balance and ensuring political power is not concentrated solely in places like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s New York, Elizabeth Warren’s Massachusetts and Nancy Pelosi’s California.  Amending the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College is a terrible idea for our state.

Edwards:

If the Electoral College is abolished, Presidential elections would be unfairly influenced by voters in the most populous states. The Electoral College will ensure that voters throughout the United States will have their preferences come into play every four years. One of my priorities regarding the size and scope of Government involves reducing the number of Representatives from 535 to 399. Even with this number the Electoral College should still come into play for Presidential elections.

Espy:

Mike Espy’s campaign staff ignored over a dozen calls, texts, emails, and Twitter/Facebook Direct Messages from Y’all Politics to submit responses for this questionnaire. The Espy campaign declined to respond.

 

The election will be held on November 3, 2020.

Publishers note – this story has been updated to cure an inaccuracy.  In an attempt to message the Espy campaign, we transposed a FB message from the Espy campaign and mistakenly attributed a GIF as their response.  We regret the error and have corrected the story to read that the Espy campaign simply refused to respond to the questionnaire.