Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week that Mississippi could provide his party another U.S. Senate seat. (Photo by Lev Radin/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week that Mississippi could provide his Democratic Party another seat in future elections.

Ezra Klein, in his New York Times podcast, asked Schumer how Democrats could add senators like Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from conservative-leaning West Virginia. In response, Schumer rattled off several states that were winnable for Democrats.

“Mississippi, 38% of the vote is African-American, if we could get that vote up a little bit and then Jackson becomes a little more moderate because the people are moving in from tech and other jobs, I wouldn’t cross that off the map,” Schumer said.

TRANSCRIPT: Read Klein’s entire interview with Schumer here.

Schumer was Senate minority leader in 2020, when Democrat Mike Espy faced Republican incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

During the race that culminated in a 10-point Hyde-Smith victory, Espy publicly chastised national groups including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — which, as majority or minority chair, Schumer wields great influence over — for its lack of investment into his campaign. That lack of investment was such that Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic congressman from Mississippi, leaned on Schumer to take a closer look at Espy’s race.

“They don’t think a Black man in Mississippi can win,” Espy said in 2020 of the lack of early support from national Democratic organizations.

By the end of the 2020 race, the DSCC and the Democratic National Committee had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign and diverted some other financial, field, polling and organizational support.

Still, Espy and other critics said the national organizations’ priorities need to change to include political infrastructure building in off years, not just in years when candidates are on the ballot.

“They’ve been doing it so long because they’ve been doing it so long,” Espy said in 2020 of the national organizations. “There is less polling here because there is less polling. You’re ignored here until you prove your own viability, but it’s hard to prove your viability if you’re ignored … In Mississippi we have a legacy of disinvestment. If the national party, the DSCC, had been putting in $5 million, or $10 million in off years, we’d have a competitive party now — the best data, an army of door knockers. But the Mike Espy campaign (had to build that infrastructure) since 2018 because we had no choice.”

READ MORE: Espy finally landed support from national Democrats in 2020 Senate race. Was it too late?


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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.