Mayor Johnny DuPree of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, won the Democratic runoff for governor on Tuesday (August 23), setting the stage for a fall general election against Phil Bryant, Mississippi’s Republican lieutenant governor. DuPree becomes the first African-American in state history to clinch the gubernatorial nomination for either party, The Hattiesburg American reports.
DuPree defeated Clarksdale, Mississippi, businessman Bill Luckett, gathering 55 percent of the vote. The three-term mayor enjoyed the support of “some of the state’s political heavy hitters,” including two of his former Democratic primary opponents and U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, The American reports.
But DuPree faces a big challenge in November. Bryant has consolidated his support among Mississippi Republicans, and the lieutenant governor has a major fundraising advantage. He has already spent $3.1 million to introduce himself to voters, more than twice the amount spent by DuPree and Luckett combined.
DuPree also has tough demographic trends to overcome. The Associated Press notes that Mississippi’s population is 37 percent African-American, and that the state has more black elected officials than any other. But the wire service also notes that the trend does not extend to statewide office: Mississippi has not elected a black statewide representative since Reconstruction.