Another barrier was broken in Mississippi as a Black candidate has won the first major party nomination to be governor of that state. Johnny DuPree, mayor of Hattiesburg, Miss., will be the Democratic candidate for governor.
DuPree won a runoff on Aug. 23 to advance to the Nov. 8 general election against Republican candidate Phil Bryant, Mississippi’s current lieutenant governor.
“I'm just so proud of the fact that we had people who believed in us, believed in the message, believed in what we're trying to accomplish,” DuPree told the Associated Press. “I'm so proud that people took a hold of that.”
DuPree’s victory is something many people in the state thought they’d never see. Rev. Kenneth Haynes of Main Street Missionary Baptist Church in Biloxi is a lifelong resident of the state, and said something like this would’ve been “impossible” 50 years ago. He’s said he’s a proud as anyone that this happened.
“Words are inadequate to describe the dream and desire that this would happen,” Haynes told Biloxi, Miss. ABC affiliate WLOX. “I never would have thought I would live long enough to see it.”
DuPree has his work cut out for him in the general election. According to The Hattiesburg American, Bryant has already spent twice as much as DuPree and the other runoff opponent, Bill Luckett, combined.
Despite that, DuPree remains optimistic and said his campaign will focus on issues instead of nasty rhetoric.
“Hopefully we showed people how to campaign,” DuPree told the American. “You don't have to be nasty and mean. You can talk about the issues and then let [voters] decide.”
Two-term Republican Gov. Haley Barbour has reached the state’s term limits and cannot run for reelection.