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Kelly Wins Runoff for Mississippi House Seat

Kelly had the support of Nunnelee's widow, and a base of voters from his role as DA in a number of the district's counties. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP File Photo)

District Attorney Trent Kelly, a Republican, rolled to victory in a special-election runoff in Mississippi's 1st District Tuesday night, The Associated Press reported.  

Kelly, who will succeed the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee, took 70 percent of the vote in his win over Democrat Walter Zinn, according to the AP.  

Initially, 13 candidates were vying for this northeastern Mississippi-based seat in a blanket special election on May 12. But when no candidate garnered the necessary 50 percent to win outright, the race kicked to a runoff with the two highest vote recipients.  

Zinn was the top vote-getter in the May 12 special election, garnering 17 percent. Kelly took the second-place spot with 16 percent, splitting the vote with 11 other Republicans.  

But the district's deeply conservative electorate made a Zinn victory Tuesday night almost impossible. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district by a 25-point margin in 2012.  

Kelly, a colonel in the Army National Guard, was a front-runner in the contest, called after Nunnelee died from brain cancer in February . Kelly had the support of Nunnelee's widow , and a base of voters from his role as DA in a number of the district's counties.  

Once Kelly is sworn in, Illinois' 18th District will be the lone vacancy in the House. Former Rep. Aaron Schock resigned from that seat while under an ethics investigation. That seat will be filled in a Sept. 10 special election .  

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