By Patsy R. Brumfield
TUPELO – State Rep. Steve Holland hopes Marshall Coleman's and Brian Neely's 23,000 votes return to the polls for the April 1 runoff.
In the March 11 Democratic primary for the 1st District congressional seat, Holland came in second behind longtime Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers by about 10,000 votes. The runoff will decide the party's nominee for the post formerly held by U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.
Monday, Calhoun City Alderman Coleman and Tupelo attorney Neely, who finished third and fourth in the voting, announced they will support Holland in the runoff.
They agreed Holland, a Plantersville resident and Tupelo funeral home owner, has a history of commitment to diversity, as well as a long record of fighting for the underprivileged, the elderly and others disadvantaged in Mississippi society.
Coleman and Neely, who are black, said they're asking all their supporters to help elect Holland to Congress.
“He has shown … that he cares about the welfare of all Mississippians,” Coleman said at the Hilton Garden Inn news conference.
Neely said it wasn’t much of a decision for him, noting Holland “has been my friend” for many years.
Holland termed their support “a highwater mark in my campaign.”
He expressed his appreciation for their help “so the 1st Congressional District will be completely returned to the people who own it.”
The typically energetic Holland ended his remarks with an exuberant, “Yee-haw!”
Coleman labeled Holland “the candidate who will be viable” in the April 22 special election, which will determine an interim representative until the winner of the Nov. 4 general election takes office.
But the Childers campaign begs to differ: “While those gentlemen are free to cast their votes where they please, we are very happy where our campaign sits today,” said Brad Morris, Childers'
communications director. “When you look at last Tuesday's returns, it's very clear which campaign has the momentum.
“We started out behind a 28-year state legislator and we ended 10,000 votes ahead of him. We're carrying this momentum into the runoff and we're looking forward to carrying it into the general election.”
Pitted in the Republican runoff are Southaven Mayor Greg Davis and former Tupelo Mayor Glenn L. McCullough Jr. Last week, ticket-leader McCullough received the endorsement of that race’s third candidate, Dr. Randy Russell of Oxford.
Reporter Emily Le Coz contributed to this story.Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.