University of Southern Mississippi alumni made history in Tuesday’s state elections, with Phil Bryant becoming the first graduate of the university to win the governorship and Hattiesburg mayor Johnny DuPree running as the first African-American Democratic nominee for governor since the Reconstruction era.
Bryant, who currently serves as the state’s lieutenant governor, and DuPree, who is in his third term as mayor of the Hub City, hold undergraduate degrees from the university.
“Having the first alumnus elected as governor, and for the nominees of both major parties for the position be graduates of the university, shows the significant role Southern Miss plays in the political, economic and cultural life of our state,” said Dr. Allan McBride, chairman of the Southern Miss Department of Political Science.
Other Southern Miss alums who won major offices in Tuesday’s elections include State Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Brookhaven, who won the office of Commissioner of Agriculture; and State Sen. Tom King (R-Petal) who was elected Southern District Transportation Commissioner. Many Southern Miss graduates also hold office in the State House of Representatives and at the municipal and county level across Mississippi.
“We’re very proud of all our alumni who sacrificed their time and energy in running for state office this year,” said Chad Driskell, executive assistant to the president for external affairs at Southern Miss. “We’re also grateful to all Southern Miss graduates who work at the local, state and federal level in service to Mississippi and the nation.”