State officials expect a high turnout today in Mississippi’s gubernatorial primary in which Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree looks to defeat three other Democrats. After today’s election, a runoff is scheduled for August 23, with the general election being held in November.
Mayor Dupree’s challengers include Clarksdale attorney and businessman Bill Luckett, retired tax assessor Guy Dale of Coffeeville, and high school teacher William Bond of Meridian.
The numbers hold well for Dupree, as he is the only African American candidate running in a state where 36% percent of the electorate is black. Though Dupree raised less money than primary challenger Bill Luckett, he has covered significant ground in the amount of political support achieved.
“I’ve always been out-raised – every race I’ve had. We get people to believe in the message. If they believe in the message, they will believe in the messenger,” said Dupree.
Dupree, a south Mississippi native, received an endorsement from beloved Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson which may yield strong support in North Mississippi’s Delta region.
“We have traveled so many different places, talking to so many different people. It is such a pleasure to meet so many people,” Dupree told Politic365.com
During the “Great Debate” hosted by WLBT, a Jackson, Mississippi news and television station, 2500 viewers replied to the station’s request to text message their choice of debate winner in an informal audience poll. The people’s choice: Mayor Johnny Dupree.
Headed into the primaries, all democratic and republican candidates have been out fundraised by republican gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Governor, Phill Bryant.
Although Dupree is ostensibly the democratic frontrunner, today’s lingering question is whether voters will turn out for the democratic primary. Though high turnout is expected, most whites in Mississippi will vote in the republican primary, if past performance is any indication.
The Republican Party has occupied the Governor’s office in Mississippi for a number of years, and from Bryant’s fundraising numbers, has no intentions of giving it up to the Democrats any time soon.
Strangely enough, the democratic primary has proceeded as somewhat of a wedding dance between Dupree and Luckett, with Dupree consistently extending overtures of kindness and affection to Luckett. Luckett, on the other hand, has done his dance on eggshells, trying desperately to avoid infusing any thoughts of race as an issues in this historic contest. Missing from the democratic primary has been an abundance of candid and informative dialogue aimed at empowering voters to make well-reasoned decisions once they enter the voting booth.
Even more intriguing is the Luckett camp’s decision to take the fight to the Republicans without having first secured the Democratic nomination. The strategy just might have cost a well-suited candidate the nomination in a state where it has been shown that an African American can, indeed, win the Democratic nomination for a statewide position, as in the case of Gary Anderson. In the last statewide election, Anderson was able to win the party’s nomination for Insurance Commissioner but lost the general election to a virtually unknown white republican.
The Mississippi Democratic Party is challenged to regain control of the Mississippi State House by building party strength and adopting new strategy. Meanwhile, Dupree just might be the victor at the end of the day tomorrow.