OXFORD, Miss (Reuters) – Mississippi voters chose Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree on Tuesday as the Democratic nominee for governor in one of four states due to hold gubernatorial contests in the fall.
DuPree, 57, beat out Clarksdale businessman and attorney Bill Luckett, 63, in a primary runoff election. DuPree had been the top finisher in the August 2 primary, when neither candidate received enough votes to win the nomination outright.
DuPree will now face Republican Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant and independent candidate Will Oatis in the general election. Bryant overwhelmingly defeated his Republican opponents earlier this month.
Republican Governor Haley Barbour cannot run again because of term limits.
DuPree and Luckett are friends who expressed many of the same views in several debates over the summer. Both talked about needing to attract big and small businesses to help the state grow and said improving education was important to fixing many of Mississippi’s problems.
DuPree became the first black mayor of Hattiesburg when he was elected in 2001. Luckett was backed by Mississippi Delta resident and actor Morgan Freeman, with whom he owns an upscale restaurant and blues club.
Several districts reported that voter turnout was “very light” on Tuesday compared to the earlier primary, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
The Justice Department monitored polling place activities in four counties to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.
Kentucky, Louisiana and West Virginia also have gubernatorial contests this year.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Johnston)
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