Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Incumbent Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith beat Democrat Mike Espy in a runoff Tuesday for the final Senate seat of the 2018 midterms.
Hyde-Smith, appointed to the seat seven months ago, becomes the first woman elected to the upper chamber from Mississippi, and will finish a term that ends in two years.
Hyde-Smith, 59, finished first in the general election among four candidates on Nov. 6, but did not receive more than 50 percent of the vote, which triggered the runoff. Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to the seat in April to succeed the resigning Thad Cochran.
"This is just an unbelievable night," Hyde-Smith told supporters at a post-election event in Jackson. "This has been an unbelievable campaign. God above is the reason we're here, and I'm going to give him glory every single day."
She thanked President Donald Trump for his support, including two campaign stops he made Monday.
"Congratulations to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on your big WIN in the Great State of Mississippi. We are all very proud of you!" Trump answered on Twitter.
Hyde-Smith promised to represent "every Mississippian" regardless of whom they voted for, and said, "I'm going to do my very best to make you proud."
With all 35 Senate races decided, the Republicans hold a 53-47 edge -- a pickup of two seats. Two independents caucus with the Democrats.
Espy was seeking to become the first black senator for Mississippi since Reconstruction in the post-Civil War era.
"Tonight is the beginning, not the end," Espy wrote in a concession statement posted on Twitter. "When this many people show up, stand up and speak up, it is not a loss. It is a moment. It is a movement. And we are not going to stop moving our state forward just because of one election. I look forward to finding new ways to do just that."
Hyde-Smith, who originally was elected to the Mississippi State Senate as a Democrat, switched parties in 2010 and was elected state agriculture commissioner in 2011, the first woman elected to that office. She's fended off controversy for weeks over a video of her saying she'd be "on the front row" if one of her supporters "invited me to a public hanging." The comment stirred deep feelings in Mississippi, where lynchings of black people were once commonplace.
"I know where her heart is, and her heart is good. That's not what she was meaning when she said that," Trump said.