- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Two candidates are trying to win support in the final days before a runoff in a north Mississippi congressional election.

Democrat Walter Zinn and Republican Trent Kelly are keeping busy campaign schedules ahead of the June 2 runoff.

They are in a race to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, who died of brain cancer in February. The winner will serve most of the two-year term that ends in January 2017.

Zinn’s schedule included events Tuesday in Oxford and Thursday in Tupelo, while Kelly’s included events Tuesday in Tupelo and Wednesday in Oxford and DeSoto County.

They emerged as the top two candidates from an original field of 13. Ballots for special elections don’t list political parties, but candidates let voters know their affiliation. Zinn was the only Democrat and only African-American on the May 12 ballot, and he received 17 percent of the vote. Kelly received 16 percent that day.

Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District encompasses all of 21 counties and part of Oktibbeha County. It stretches from the Memphis suburbs down to Winston County near the center of the state. Although Democrat Jamie Whitten represented most of the current 1st District for more than half a century, the U.S. House seat has been held by Republicans for most years since Whitten retired at the end of 1994.

Zinn, 34, of Pontotoc, is an attorney who has worked as a political adviser for other Democrats, including former Jackson mayors Harvey Johnson Jr. and Chokwe Lumumba. He said he’s campaigning on improving schools, health care, job training and other services, and providing “opportunity for everyone.”

Kelly, 49, of Saltillo, is district attorney in seven counties. He finished first in Calhoun, Lee, Pontotoc and Prentiss counties. Two of those counties, Lee and Prentiss, are in the district where he is DA. Kelly says he wants to limit the size of government, reduce regulations, provide for a strong defense and take care of veterans.

Absentee voting has started for the 1st District runoff.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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