| The Clarion-Ledger | www.clarionledger.com: www.clarionledger.com/article/20110824/NEWS04/1082…toric
Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree has made history, becoming the first African American in modern history to win a major-party nomination for Mississippi governor.
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."
He spent less money on his campaign than Luckett but led an aggressive grass-roots effort, reaching out to potential voters in churches and going door-to-door across the state, among other tactics.
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)."
Though turnout was expected to be low Tuesday, DuPree supporters lit up Facebook and Twitter with encouraging messages throughout the day.
DuPree took an early lead as results came in and held onto it for the rest of the night.
He easily won Hinds County – the county with the most Democratic voters, taking about five votes for every one that went to Luckett.
The three-term mayor celebrated Tuesday night at Hattiesburg’s Sherrill Community Center across from City Hall.