State Auditor Phil Bryant won the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor Tuesday, defeating state Sen. Charlie Ross in a primary where both candidates vowed to be close allies of Republican Gov. Haley Barbour.
Bryant will face Democratic state Rep. Jamie Franks in the Nov. 6 general election. Franks was unopposed for his party's nomination.
Bryant walked on stage at his victory party as Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" blared from loudspeakers at the state Agriculture and Forestry Museum.
Barbour, who had appeared moments earlier at Ross' party, stood behind Bryant and smiled as he spoke.
During his concession speech at a restaurant several miles away, Ross said he will support Bryant in the weeks leading to November.
The lieutenant governorship is one of the most powerful positions in state government. The job is open this year because the Republican incumbent, Amy Tuck, is limited to two terms and couldn't run again.
The lieutenant governor presides over the 52-member state Senate, appoints committee chairmen and assigns bills to committees.
Bryant, who has been state auditor since 1996, and Ross, who has been a state senator for the past decade, both live in the Jackson suburbs of Rankin County, one of key counties for the Republican primary.