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Incumbents prove tough to beat in Mississippi, sweeping congressional primaries

U.S Senator Roger Wicker defeated two Republican challengers on Tuesday. He will now face Democrat Ty Pinkins in the general election on Nov. 5. (File photo)

Mississippi’s congressional and presidential primaries on Tuesday were relatively seamless as problems at the polls were minimal and nearly all races were called within two hours of precincts closing.

In a race that some politicos originally thought might end up in a run-off, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker flew past two Republican challengers in retired military officer Ghannon Burton and state Rep. Dan Eubanks. With less than 10 percent of the vote in, the Associated Press called it in Wicker’s favor.

Wicker will now face off against Democrat Ty Pinkins in the general election. Pinkins – a Mississippi Delta attorney who was thrown in by his party as an eleventh-hour nominee for secretary of state last fall after Shuwaski Young suspended his campaign over health concerns – released a video statement on Tuesday night, saying he’s ready for the challenge.

“Over the next eight months, our mission is clear: to traverse the expanse of our great state, to listen intently to the voices of Mississippians, and to transform our hopes into action,” Pinkins said after thanking his family, campaign team, and voters.

“As we embark on the next phase of our campaign, let us be reminded of the stakes at hand. The general election is not merely a contest of ideas but a choice about the direction of our state and our nation. This is a critical election.”

Pinkins went on to call it a David versus Goliath situation as Wicker has become a name brand in both Mississippi and D.C.

On the House side, incumbents swept their respective races with Republicans Trent Kelly (District 1) and Michael Guest (District 3) along with Democrat Bennie Thompson (District 2) running unopposed. Mike Ezell (District 4) ousted GOP challengers Carl Boyanton and Michael McGill.

Kelly will now face off against Democratic nominee and salon owner Dianne Black in the general for the second consecutive election cycle. In 2022, Kelly defeated Black by a whopping 46 points. In an interview prior to the primary, Kelly pleaded with voters to put him back in office as issues continue to arise at the southern border.

“This election is so important that we put people in that are going to do something about the flow of these illegal immigrants,” Kelly said. “America and Mississippi are worth fighting for, so I’m not going to get too tired to keep fighting.”

Guest is the only surefire incumbent to be back in D.C. this time next year as the former district attorney did not draw any Democratic candidates.

Thompson, who is seeking a 16th term, won’t know his opponent until three weeks from now as Ron Eller and Andrew Smith are heading to a run-off on the Republican side. Eller finished nearly 11 points ahead of Smith but was unable to get past the 50 percent threshold in the three-candidate field that also included Taylor Turcotte.

Either way, running against Thompson is no easy task as the longstanding congressman has only increased his name ID since the last election through his work as chair of the House Jan. 6 committee. He continues to be a force on the Homeland Security Committee as well.

Ezell will face off against a mostly unheard-of Craig Raybon in the general. Raybon, who according to Facebook is a forklift driver in Gulfport, has done little to none on the campaign trail.

The run-off for the GOP nomination in District 2 is set for April 2. The general election will be on Nov. 5. It will also feature an expected matchup between presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump, both of whom had big wins in Mississippi during Tuesday’s primaries.

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