Joe Biden speaks to his supporters during an event at Tougaloo College’s Kroger Gymnasium on March 8, 2020.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday endorsed Mississippi U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy.

“A lifelong Mississippian, Mike Espy has spent his career working to improve the lives of Mississippi’s working families,” Biden said. “From his times as the first Black congressman from Mississippi since Reconstruction to his critical leadership as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to his role helping to build a strong rural economy across the South, Mike Espy has the experience to move Mississippi forward.”

Espy said: “Joe Biden unites and heals. He has dignity and empathy. He is the leader our country needs right now to move forward … I look forward to working with President Biden and Vice President Harris to increase opportunities for all Mississippians.”

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Espy is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who defeated Espy in a special election for the Senate seat in 2018. Hyde-Smith is a close ally of President Donald Trump and he aided her 2018 campaign with in-person rallies in Tupelo and Biloxi just before her runoff with Espy.

Espy’s endorsements this cycle include the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Congressional Black Caucus PAC, Collective PAC and Stacey Abrams, Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Hyde-Smith’s endorsements include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Huck PAC, Mississippi Manufacturers Association, National Rifle Association and National Right to Life Committee.

Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.