JACKSON, Miss. — Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi easily won a Republican primary Tuesday, months after being endorsed by President Donald Trump and the same day Trump tweeted that the legislator “has my total support!”
Wicker served nearly 13 years in the U.S. House before then-Gov. Haley Barbour appointed him to the Senate in late 2007 when fellow Republican Trent Lott resigned.
On Tuesday, Wicker, of Tupelo, defeated one primary challenger who ran a low-budget campaign, business owner Richard Boyanton of Diamondhead.
Voter Mark Wall of Madison said he supported Wicker because of his “conservative values” and advocacy for the state.
“He’s done a lot to bring stuff to Mississippi that we need,” Wall said.
In the Democratic primary, six candidates were running, including state Reps. David Baria and Omeria Scott, and venture capitalist Howard Sherman, who is the husband of actress Sela Ward. That race could go to a June 26 runoff.
On Tuesday, Wicker told The Associated Press: “It does seem based on statements coming from the various Democratic campaigns that opposition to the Trump agenda will be front and center in their emphasis. I don’t think that sounds like a winner in Mississippi.”
Mississippi is heavily Republican; it last had a Democrat in the Senate in 1989, when John C. Stennis retired.
Baria is an attorney and served one state Senate term before being elected in 2011 to the Republican-led Mississippi House, where he’s now the Democratic leader. He criticizes Republicans for cutting taxes and refusing to expand Medicaid.
Scott, who runs a soul food restaurant in Laurel, said in an interview that Mississippi needs to spend more state and federal money on education, health care and highways.
Sherman and Ward raised their two children in Los Angeles, where he grew up, and the couple now lives near her hometown of Meridian, Mississippi. They campaigned Tuesday at a soul food restaurant in Jackson. Speaking to voter Harry Levy Jr., Ward said Wicker has had a long career in Washington, serving in the House 13 years before moving to the Senate in late 2007 — and, she said, Mississippi is still poor.
“He’s been in office 23 years, and we’re still 50th,” Ward said.
Associated Press writer Jeff Amy contributed to this report from Madison, Mississippi.