‘Mystery Guy’ Truck Driver Wins Dem. Nomination for Mississippi Governor

Robert-Gray-Democrat-Governor
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has $2.8 million in his campaign fund, and his Democratic challenger in the November election is a truck driver who reported spending no money so far and who said he didn't even vote in Tuesday's primary.

Robert Gray won the Democratic primary for governor over two candidates — Vicki Slater, a trial lawyer backed by much of the Democratic establishment; and Dr. Valerie Adream Smartt Short, an obstetrician-gynecologist.

Gov. Bryant easily defeated his only GOP primary opponent, Mitch Young of Sumrall, a Navy veteran who spent little.

"This is just halftime," Bryant said Tuesday night from the state Republican headquarters in Jackson. "We've got until November to make sure a lot us get re-elected and hold the (state) House and hold the Senate."

Gray told The Associated Press in a phone interview that he was busy Tuesday and did not vote.

"I was in Jackson and had to do a lot of stuff and just lost track of time, to tell you the truth," said Gray, who was in south Mississippi by election night.

Gray said he made only a few campaign appearances and was at a loss to explain his strong showing. He said some might have voted for him because he has a common name.

"They didn't know me from anybody else," Gray said of Democratic primary voters.

He said his campaign was not backed by any big-name politician or group.

Slater said from her home late Tuesday that Gray was "sort of a mystery guy" who showed up at very few campaign events.

"I did everything I could to win this," Slater told AP.

Slater campaigned on expanding Medicaid and fully funding an education budget formula that has been largely ignored since it was put into law in 1997.

The Nov. 3 ballot for governor will also include the Reform Party's Shawn O'Hara, who has run unsuccessfully for more than a dozen state and local races since the early 1990s.

Associated Press writer Jack Elliott Jr. contributed to this report.

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