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Mississippi Special Election Heads to Runoff

The race to replace Nunnelee is headed to a runoff. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The special election in Mississippi's 1st District is headed to a June 2 runoff, after none of the 13 candidates in the field captured the necessary votes to win outright.  

In a surprising twist, Democrat Walter Zinn took the first-place spot, with 17 percent when The Associated Press called the race. Zinn advances with Republican Trent Kelly, a district attorney who took the second-place spot with 16 percent. Both are seeking to replace the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee, who died in February after a battle with brain cancer.  

GOP operatives in the Magnolia State expected two Republicans to advance to the runoff.  

But Zinn, the only Democrat in the crowded field who raised little cash for his bid, coalesced enough Democrats in the district to capture the first-place spot.  

Mississippi's 1st District, located in the northeast corner of the state, voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney with 62 percent in 2012. With a Republican and a Democrat in the runoff, the June 2 race is little more than a formality, with Kelly almost guaranteed a win.  

Kelly received a donation from the late congressman's campaign account at the behest of Nunnelee’s widow, Tori.  

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