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Mississippi state executive runoff elections yield historic, tight races

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August 24, 2011

By Lauren Rodgers and Greg Janetka

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JACKSON, Mississippi: Six candidates for three state executive races battled it out for a second time in Mississippi's primary runoff elections. Candidates for two Democratic and one Republican race remained open following the August 2 primary elections.

Polls have closed, votes have been counted and candidates for the general election have been solidified. Despite a low voter turnout, two of the three state executive races made headlines.[1] Democratic gubernatorial candidate Johnny DuPree won what has been called a "historical runoff" after becoming the state's first black gubernatorial candidate. And despite little to no information available about the down ballot races, Mike Collier and Thomas Blanton duked it out in a nail biting race for the Democratic seat for the Public Service Commission's southern region.

Governor

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree made history last night, becoming Mississippi's first black gubernatorial candidate. Unofficial results show him defeating Clarksdale attorney Bill Luckett, Jr. by more than 30,000 votes.

DuPree pledged last night to continue focusing on job creation and improving Mississippi's economy. "Better jobs mean more money for Mississippians. And we do that with better schools and safer streets. More green means a better tomorrow," he said.[2]

His work is far from over, though - he faces current lieutenant governor Phil Bryant in November's general election. Pre-primary polling in March gave Bryant a substantial lead over any potential Democratic candidate, and showed the lieutenant governor besting DuPree 56% to 25%, with 19% of voters undecided.[3]

Independent candidate William D. Oatis will also be on the ballot. Two candidates claiming to represent the official Reform Party of Mississippi have also filed to run, but the Mississippi State Board of Election Commissioners have not determined which, if either, will be on the ballot.

Governor - Democratic primary runoff results (Unofficial)
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party ApprovedaJohnny DuPree 55%
     Democratic Party Bill Luckett, Jr. 45%
Total Votes 309,728


Treasurer

Executive Director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board Lynn Fitch defeated freshman state Senator Lee Yancey for the Republican nomination for treasurer. According to unofficial results, Fitch received 53 percent of the vote, with over 152,000 votes cast.

Fitch will face Democrat Connie Moran in the general election, while Reform Party candidate Jon McCarty is also seeking to be on the ballot. Fitch or Moran would be the first woman to assume the role of treasurer since Evelyn Gandy. Gandy, the first woman elected to statewide office in Mississippi, served as treasurer from 1960 to 1964 and 1968 to 1972.[4]

Treasurer - Republican primary runoff results[5]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party ApprovedaLynn Fitch 53%
     Republican Party Lee Yancey 47%
Total Votes 156,006


Public Service Commission

In one of the closest races of the night, Mike Collier barely edged out Thomas Blanton to secure the Democratic nomination for the southern seat on the Public Service Commission. Unofficial results show Collier winning by just 224 votes, with a total of 81,800 cast. If the results hold up, Collier, a retired insurance agent, will go on to face incumbent Republican Leonard Bentz in the general election.[6]

Public Service - Democratic primary runoff results[7]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party ApprovedaMike Collier 50%
     Democratic Party Thomas Blanton 50%
Total Votes 83,748


See also

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References