Jackson, Miss. (AP) – Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the state’s bitter Republican primary for lieutenant governor Tuesday, staving off a primary challenge for one of the most powerful positions in Mississippi government.
The results are the culmination of a contest that divided conservatives and turned increasingly nasty in its final weeks. Hosemann, 76, is seeking a second term as lieutenant governor after serving three terms as secretary of state. He called McDaniel a “pathological liar” during the campaign and decried the coarse tone of the race in a victory speech Tuesday.
“There are people on the internet that really are gutless. And what they do is spew venom for just people they don’t even know,” Hosemann said. “And to those people, I would ask you: When you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror, what have you done positive for Mississippi? And I think the answer is nothing.”
McDaniel’s loss was his third unsuccessful campaign for higher office after two failed bids for U.S. Senate in the past decade. The four-term state legislator of Ellisville hammered Hosemann throughout the campaign cycle for, in his view, being insufficiently conservative.
Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves will face Democrat Brandon Presley in the November election
In a speech, McDaniel said it was a “tough night” and that he’d keep fighting for his principles out of office. He later conceded the race to Hosemann in a written statement.
“Not for a moment was I built to compromise. Not for a moment was I built to reach across the aisle,” McDaniel said. “I was able to deliver a contrast between what we believe and what the moderates or what the establishment believes. Now the people tonight have rejected that.”
On the campaign trail, Hosemann touted a teacher pay raise, millions in new funding for public education, and a budget surplus. McDaniel said the incumbent appointed too many Democrats to committees chairmanships in the state Senate. The candidates also brawled over their commitment to restricting abortion rights.
In the November general election, Hosemann will face business consult D. Ryan Grover, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The winner will preside over the 52-member Mississippi Senate, appointing senators to committees and naming the committee leaders.
Educator Tiffany Longino, who ran a low-budget campaign for the Republican nomination, finished a distant third.
The Republican primary for lieutenant governor was one of several races to watch in Mississippi’s party primaries. Republicans currently hold all eight statewide offices and a majority in the state House and Senate. Primary runoffs are Aug. 29. The general election is Nov. 7, with runoffs Nov. 28.