District attorney Michael Guest won Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff for the U.S. House 3rd District, and is odds-on favorite to win the seat in the heavily Republican district in November’s general election.
Sarah Fowler, Mississippi Clarion Ledger Published 8:23 p.m. CT June 26, 2018 | Updated 7:43 a.m. CT June 27, 2018
The Associated Press declared Guest the winner a little over an hour after the polls closed with 35 percent of precincts reporting. At the time, in unofficial results from a low-turnout runoff, Guest had a 3 to 1 lead over first-time political candidate and businessman Whit Hughes.
As of press time, with 78 percent of precincts reporting, Guest had secured 65 percent of the vote to Hughes’ 35 percent.
“We’re extremely excited,” Guest said Tuesday night. “We are very excited that the message that we’ve been talking about on the campaign trail, that it resonated with the voters.
“Anytime you’re running a race in which you’ve got 24 counties, often it’s difficult to judge how your message is being received throughout the district.”
Guest said he felt voters looked at his record as prosecutor as well as his work with law enforcement “and felt like we would be the best voice to represent them in the United States Congress.”
Guest, 48, has served as district attorney for Madison and Rankin counties since 2008 and was assistant district attorney for 12 years. He is president of the Foundation for Rankin County Public Schools and serves on the board of the state and central Mississippi Crime Stoppers.
He has campaigned on “limited government, traditional Mississippi values, free market economic principles of lower taxes and fewer regulations, protecting the right to life of the unborn, a strong national defense with full support of our men and women in the military, and keeping our 2nd Amendment gun rights and the other individual rights and liberties guaranteed to us by our Constitution,” according to his campaign website.
Guest has been a strong supporter of President Donald Trump.
Gov. Phil Bryant endorsed Guest, saying, “President Trump will make America great again, and Michael will be part of that team.”
Guest will face Democratic state Rep. Michael “Big Country” Evans of Preston in the general election in November. But the district is heavily Republican and the seat is expected to remain with the GOP.
Guest led a field of six Republicans in the low-turnout June 5 primary with 45 percent of the vote and Hughes a distant second at 22 percent. With no one receiving more than 50 percent, the race was forced to a runoff.
The seat is being vacated by longtime Republican Rep. Gregg Harper who is not seeking re-election. While Harper has not publicly endorsed Guest, he did donate to Guest’s campaign. Many of Harper’s top campaign aides also joined Guest’s team.
In a text to the Clarion Ledger Tuesday night, Hughes congratulated Guest, saying, “I want to congratulate Michael Guest on his victory. I wish him well.
“I am so thankful to my family, friends, supporters and staff for all of their hard work throughout this campaign. (My wife) Shelley and I appreciate you so very much. I love Mississippi and I look forward to to finding more ways to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family.”
Guest said, for his part, he started the campaign with an intention to run a race that “people would be proud of and we wanted to honor and give glory to our Heavenly Father.”
Guest said he believed there were “six good conservative candidates” in the race and he hopes to “build bridges with like-minded conservatives” to secure a victory in the November election.
The hope is “to try to solidify them behind one single conservative candidate.”
“It is important the third congressional district seat stays in Republican hands,” he said.
A special election will appear on the same ballot in November to replace former longtime U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran following his resignation in April due to health problems. Also, incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker will face Democrat David Baria.