In one of the most bitter battles of the primary season, Tate Reeves defeated Billy Hewes in the Republican lieutenant governor's race Tuesday.
"I'm very humbled by the support of so many Mississippians," said Reeves, 37. "It's a great victory."
Reeves and Hewes, 49, traded attacks at every opportunity in the race, with biting ads and direct criticisms of each other's record.
The race remained tight throughout the night, but Reeves eventually pulled well over half of the primary votes. With no Democrat in the race, he is all but guaranteed to be the state's next lieutenant governor.
He could face a Reform Party candidate in the Nov. 8 general election, but that party has never had a successful bid for statewide office.
Reeves, who has served as state treasurer since 2004, said he will continue campaigning through November, but he's also preparing for the legislative session that begins in January.
"We're gonna celebrate tonight and get to work in the morning," he said.
Hewes, a 20-year state senator from Gulfport, said even though he didn't win, he has enjoyed traveling the state and feels he made a "very good contest" of the race.
"That's the way political campaigns go," he said. "I'm very proud of the race we ran, and I look at it as a great experience."
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant's run for governor left the wide-open race to replace him as the match to watch in the primary.
The lieutenant governor presides over the 52-member Senate and takes on some of the governor's duties when he is away. One of the key duties is naming Senate chairmen and committee members.
Hewes and Reeves routinely questioned each other's ability to be a "watchdog," handle state money and effectively lead the Senate.
Reeves referred to Hewes as a "career politician," and, in one of the most buzzed about political ads this cycle, Hewes' camp depicted Reeves as a chihuahua.
While Reeves started as the front-runner, Hewes' campaign recently claimed a growing momentum. Reeves edged out Hewes in spending, pouring more than $2.3 million to Hewes' $2 million, in a race that largely divided the state's Republican elite.
On Reeves' side were state GOP chairman Arnie Hederman, former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal John Palmer and Gov. Haley Barbour's nephews, Henry and Austin.
Hewes drew support from former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott and longtime state GOP leaders Billy Mounger, Billy Powell and Wirt Yerger.
Hewes recently pulled the rare move of releasing a list of Republican senators he would have named as committee chairmen if elected, but Reeves has not named any potential chairmen.
"There will be an appropriate time and place to discuss that," he said Tuesday night.
Several senators, including Merle Flowers of Southaven and Billy Hudson of Hattiesburg, made contributions to Reeves' campaign. Others, including Sen. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall, supported him at events, giving some indication of who could be in Reeves' inner circle when the session starts.
Beyond that, it's unclear how popular Reeves will be at the Capitol. During the campaign, he repeatedly criticized the Legislature's spending and bond bills, vowing to "shake things up" if elected.
"If you are looking for a lieutenant governor who is a creature of the Legislature, by the Legislature and for the Legislature, I am not your guy," he said at the Neshoba County Fair last week. "I will not go-along to get-along as lieutenant governor."
Reeves has not released a legislative agenda but said he will focus on education and job creation. Redistricting will be one of the biggest priorities in the upcoming session, he said.
Reeves and Hewes had engaged in a near constant back-and-forth, with spats over push polls and whether ads were misleading. In the chihuahua ad, a woman scolded the dog as, "bad, bad Tate" and called him "some watchdog."