The Republican primary for the District 37 Senate seat is heading for a runoff between former senator Melanie Sojourner and Morgan Halford Poore.
With 54 of 57 precincts reporting in Tuesday’s primary, Sojourner garnered 2,813 votes (45 percent) while Poore got 1,811 votes (29 percent).
Rounding out the results were Kevin Wells with 851 votes and Milt Burris with 816 votes.
“This campaign has been one of the most humbling and educational moments of my life,” said Poore, an attorney in Meadville. “I thought that I knew the problems concerning our district going into the campaign, but after talking to all the people in the district, I am so much better informed.
“If I’m given the opportunity to represent District 37, I know the campaign experience has opened my eyes to the needs of District 37. I’m excited and we’re ready for three weeks from now.”
Sojourner held the seat from 2012-16 after beating longtime incumbent Bob Dearing. He beat her four years ago but is retiring.
“With four people in the race, we always anticipated that it would go into a runoff,” Sojourner said. “We were incredibly pleased tonight with some of the Republican turnout in some of the other counties. We have worked so hard for months. We have knocked on thousands of doors and made thousands of phone calls and touched lots of voters.
“We are anxious to go out and spread our message, touch more voters and remind them of my record of service and the issues before us. We’ve got the experience and leadership to go back to Jackson and make a difference. Now we have three weeks to go out and make our case to the voters.”
As far as swaying the voters who cast their ballot for either Burris or Wells, both Poore and Sojourner said that it is key to appeal to them.
“My youth and the business legal and practical experience that I have — I want to put that to use for the voters and for our district,” Poore said. “I think that getting our name out there even more will show voters that I am the most qualified. I’m ready and willing and able to serve the people of this district.”
Added Sojourner, “We’ve got to get in and develop a strategic plan on where we lost voters. And we have to make sure to concentrate on those precincts and take our message to those people. The other thing is that we’ve got to remind our supporters how important it is to come back out. We know that traditionally in runoffs the voter turnout is lower.”
Poore believes that campaigning against the likes of Burris, Wells and Sojourner helped inspire her to work hard towards her own campaign.
“It gives me faith in the system that it is working because we have good people running and people who want to serve southwest Mississippi,” she said. “The more that we join together and work together and work together, the more that we can get done. And that is all that I want to do, to make Southwest Mississippi the absolute best place that it can be for all of us to live.”
Sojourner said that having past experience in the District 37 Senate seat works in her favor.
“I think based on the numbers that we are seeing tonight, that it matters to voters,” she said. “I believe that those four years of seniority that we have already acquired, I think it matters to voters. I think it matters to voters that we’ve already shown them that we’ve already authored bills that they’ve been signed them into law and we’ve got them done.”