Luckett outspends Dupree in runoff

Published 11:57 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2011

JACKSON (AP) — Clarksdale attorney and developer Bill Luckett has spent just over $1 million in his campaign for Mississippi governor, while his opponent in next week’s Democratic primary runoff, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, has spent $481,716.

Money could continue to be a challenge for Democrats this year. Luckett and DuPree, combined, have spent less than half of what’s been spent by the Republican nominee for governor. Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant had spent $3.1 million by late July, and he won a five-person primary Aug. 2 to capture the GOP nomination for the state’s top job.

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates in the Aug. 23 runoffs to file campaign finance reports.

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The only other statewide primary runoff will determine the Republican nominee for state treasurer. The new finance reports show that state Personnel Board director Lynn Fitch of Madison has spent $535,726 so far this year, and state Sen. Lee Yancey of Brandon has spent $344,073.

Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for treasurer. She and Bryant did not have to file finance reports Tuesday.

DuPree and Luckett emerged from a four-man Democratic field Aug. 2. They have been traveling the state the past two weeks to raise money and connect with potential voters.

Luckett said during a news conference outside the Capitol last week that he is “a consensus builder.”

“I don’t go for the divisiveness that’s been separating us here politically for a long time in Mississippi,” Luckett said. “I know how to get people to get together, to come together as one and move this state forward.”

Luckett also said he’s the last person left in the governor’s race who’s not a “career politician.” DuPree was a county supervisor more than eight years before he was elected mayor a decade ago. Bryant was state auditor 11 years before he was elected lieutenant governor in 2007.

DuPree brushed off Luckett’s criticism.

“Mr. Luckett is very successful at what he does,” DuPree said. “I hear he’s a good attorney. If I were needing a plaintiff’s attorney, I would probably hire him. I hope people would consider the experience I have as a public servant.”

DuPree has told The Associated Press in several interviews that he has been outspent in many of his previous campaigns for mayor or Forrest County supervisor, and he’s not worried about being outspent in the governor’s race. He said he is relying on connections he has developed across the state the past two decades, plus word-of-mouth help from supporters.

The general election is Nov. 8.

One independent, Will Oatis of Silver Creek, is running for governor, and two rival factions of the Reform Party want to put a candidate in the race. One of the Reform Party groups also wants to put a candidate in the treasurer’s race.

After the Democratic and Republican nominations are set, the state Board of Election Commissioners could consider whether Reform Party candidates will be on the November ballot.