Republican Trent Kelly will cruise to victory in the special-election runoff Tuesday night to replace former Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) in Mississippi’s 1st District.
 
The Associated Press has called the race for Kelly over Democrat Walter Zinn. With more than half the vote in, Kelly holds a 69 percent to 31 percent lead in the deep-red district that Mitt Romney carried by 25 percentage points in 2012.
 
Kelly, a district attorney representing about one-third of the district, will finish the term started by Nunnelee, who died of cancer in February.
 
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“I am sure Congressman-elect Trent Kelly will work tirelessly from day one on behalf of Mississippi’s 1st District families,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden said in a statement. “Our hearts are still heavy over the loss of our friend and colleague Rep. Alan Nunnellee [sic] and our prayers will continue to be with his family.” 
 
“But there’s no question that Trent will continue Rep. Nunnellee’s [sic] dedication to ensuring Mississippi families have a strong economy, good paying jobs and that their values and voices are heard right here in Congress,” he continued. “I look forward to having Trent join our Conference and to see him fight for the 1st District in Washington.”
 
Kelly was an early favorite to advance to Tuesday’s runoff election in the huge field of GOP contenders. His campaign was managed by a former Nunnelee campaign manager and top aide.
 
Political watchers in the state expected two Republicans would go head-to-head in Tuesday’s runoff election, but Zinn surprised observers by finishing atop the field of 13 candidates in last month’s jungle primary, while 12 Republicans split the rest of the vote.
 
— Updated at 10:11 p.m.