Hyde-Smith becomes first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress

Then-Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks to a crowd after Gov. Phil Bryant selected her to succeed fellow Republican Thad Cochran in the U.S. Senate last month in Brookhaven, Mississippi. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(CNN)Cindy Hyde-Smith became the first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress when she was sworn in to the US Senate Monday by Vice President Mike Pence.

Hyde-Smith was appointed by Mississippi's Republican Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the seat vacated by longtime Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who resigned earlier this month due to health issues.
"I know I speak for senators on both sides of the aisle in welcoming our new colleague," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said shortly after the brief swearing-in ceremony on the Senate floor.
She was accompanied by Sen. Roger Wicker, the now senior senator from Mississippi, who's up for re-election in November. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins also attended the ceremony.
    "You got a good mentor here," Schumer said while shaking Hyde-Smith's hand and gesturing toward Wicker.
    Hyde-Smith will remain in the seat until Mississippi holds a special election in November to fill the two remaining years of Cochran's term. With no primary and no party labels attached to the candidates on the ballot, the race will likely become an interesting three-way contest among Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Democratic former Rep. Mike Espy and Hyde-Smith. If no one breaks 50%, the top two finishers, regardless of party, would advance to a runoff.
    Hyde-Smith, a beef cattle farmer, was most recently the state's commissioner of agriculture and commerce and previously served as a state senator. Formerly a Democrat, she switched to the Republican Party in 2010.
    She's the 23rd woman currently in the Senate and the sixth Republican woman senator in office.