Two Republican Men Advance to Primary Runoff in Mississippi

Magnolia State has still never elected a woman to Congress

Whit Hughes finished second in the Republican primary for the open seat in Mississippi’s 3rd District, but will advance to the runoff later this month. (Courtesy Whit Hughes For Congress)

The Republican primary for Mississippi’s 3rd District is heading to a runoff after no candidate cleared more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday night. Incumbent GOP Rep. Gregg Harper is retiring after five terms in Congress.

Leading the six-candidate field were District Attorney Michael Guest and Whit Hughes, the chief development officer of Baptist Health Systems.  With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Guest led Hughes 45 percent to 22 percent, according to The Associated Press. The two will meet in a June 26 runoff. 

As the district attorney for Madison and Rankin counties, Guest’s current territory overlaps with the 3rd District, which stretches across the central part of the state from the Louisiana to the Alabama borders. He had support from Harper as well as financial backing from a few other conservative House members from other states.

A former Mississippi State University basketball star, Hughes was finance chairman for former Republican Gov. Haley Barbour’s 2003 campaign and is a past deputy director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

Guest ended the pre-primary reporting period with $61,000 in the bank to Hughes’ $67,000.

The runoff winner will face Democratic state Rep. Michael Evans in November after he easily won the party nod Tuesday. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Republican, which means either Guest or Hughes is likely heading to Congress next year.

Half of the Republicans running for the 3rd District were women. They finished in the bottom three spots. Despite now having an appointed female senator in Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi is still yet to elect a woman to federal office. 

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