Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree won the Mississippi Democratic gubernatorial primary runoff on Tuesday. DuPree becomes the first Black candidate in modern times to win a major-party nomination for Mississippi governor in a state that "hasn't had a Black statewide official" since Reconstruction.
DuPree, 57, who led in the Aug. 2 primary, defeated Clarksdale lawyer and businessman Bill Luckett, 63, in the Democratic runoff Tuesday, snagging 55 percent of the vote. He will face Republican nominee Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, as well as independent Will Oatis and a potential Reform Party candidate, in the Nov. 8 general election.
"I feel good," he said Tuesday night after the results were announced. "It's been a long (race), and I feel we were rewarded for a lot of hard work."
DuPree said he's aware of the milestone he has achieved in a state known for its difficult racial past, but he doesn't want to harp on it. "What we've been trying to express to people is a message," he said. "I don't think I have to focus on (race)."
DuPree became the first Black mayor of Hattiesburg when he was elected in 2001. DuPree is a business partner of actor Morgan Freeman, with whom he owns an upscale restaurant and blues club.
DupRee and his white opponent, Clarksdale businessman Bill Luckett, avoided personal attacks in the primary. Luckett promptly endorsed DuPree on Tuesday night, reports the Hattiesburg American.
Republican Gov. Haley Barbour could not seek a third term this year. Thankfully.