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Democrat advances to runoff in Mississippi special election

In a major upset Tuesday night, Democrat Walter Zinn Jr. finished atop the field of 13 candidates in the jungle primary to replace former Rep. Alan NunneleePatrick (Alan) Alan NunneleeTrent Kelly sworn in as House member Democrat advances to runoff in Mississippi special election House holds moment of silence for Rep. Nunnelee MORE (R-Miss.) in Mississippi’s 1st District.
 
Zinn will move on to the June 2 runoff against Republican Trent Kelly, a district attorney, who finished second in Tuesday’s primary. The Associated Press called the race just after 11 p.m.
 
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There were 12 Republicans and only one Democrat on the ballot in the special election contest to replace Nunnelee, who died of cancer in February. All of the candidates, regardless of party, ran on the same ballot in the solidly Republican district.
 
According to the political website Ace of Spades, Zinn finished with 17 percent support, followed by Kelly at 16.3 percent. Kelly finished ahead of fellow Republican Mike Tagert, the transportation commissioner for the 1st District, by about 3,000 votes to be the second candidate to make the runoff election.
 
All of the other candidates finished with single-digit support.
 
If any of the candidates had pulled 50 percent support, they would have won outright, but the huge field split the vote, sending the top two vote-getters to the runoff election. 
 
Most political watchers didn’t expect the lone Democrat to be a factor in the race. 
 
Rather, it was Kelly, whose campaign is being managed by a former Nunnelee campaign manager and top aide, and Tagert who were the favorites to advance.
 
Kelly will be the big favorite in the runoff election in a district that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won by 25 percentage points in 2012.