WASHINGTON (AP) – Mississippi’s lone Democrat in Washington, Rep. Bennie Thompson, defeated one primary opponent. Jerry Kerner ran a low-budget campaign and called Thompson “a gullible follower of the anti-American House leadership.”

Thompson is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and co-chairman of a committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Thompson has been in Congress since winning a 1993 special election. The 2nd District now encompasses most of western Mississippi and much of the metro Jackson area.

After Thompson voted Tuesday in Bolton, he spent the day campaigning in his district, which is now about 300 miles (483 kilometers) from north to south. The largely rural 2nd District expanded this year as state legislators redrew the four House districts to account for population changes in the past decade.

Thompson said in the days before the primary, he went to southwestern Mississippi counties that were added to the district, including Franklin County, where he taught in 1968-69. He said he was happy to see some of his former students.

“They said, ‘Now we finally have a congressperson we can vote for who understands support for public education, who understands support for Social Security, who understands support for veterans,” Thompson told The Associated Press.

Thompson said he returns to Washington on Wednesday to continue preparing for Thursday night’s televised hearings of the Jan. 6 investigative committee.

The 2nd District Republican primary candidates are Michael Carson, a diesel mechanic who cites former President Ronald Reagan as a role model; Ronald Eller, a retired Army captain who is campaigning on free enterprise and limited government; Brian Flowers, a military veteran who lost to Thompson in 2020 and now says Thompson “is trying to intimidate American patriots” by investigating the activities of Jan. 6, 2021; and Stanford Johnson, a truck driver who advocates congressional term limits.

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