Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy, a veteran of 30 years in public office, held a mosest lead over five men in early returns today in the state's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Gandy had 31 percent of the vote, with 435 of 2,168 precincts reporting. In the first Republican State Gubernatorial primary with 1,188 precincts reporting, veteran party standard-bearer Gil Carmichael of Meridian led with 51 percent of the vote, to 49 percent for Leon Bramlett of Clarksdale. Both are millionaire businessmen.

Former lieutenant governor William Winter was second in the early Democratic Party counting, with 26 percent of the vote followed by former state representative John Arthur Eaves of Jackson with 16 percent, former district attorney Jim Herring of Canton, 18 percent, state Rep. Charles Deaton of Greenwood, 7 percent, and political newcomer Richard Barrett of Jackson, 3 percent.

Gandy, 58, was expected to benefit from a quiet campaign in which name recognition counted heavily. She is a former state representative, state treasurer, welfare commissioner and insurance commissioner.

Many polls had indicated that she would win one of the two spots in the Aug. 28 runoff.

Since most of the 2,168 precincts use paper ballots, and three were numerous local and state offices on the ticket, officials expected slow returns.

The party nominees will meet in the Nov. 6 general election.

The winner will succeed Democrat Gov. Cliff Finch, who was barred by the states constitution from serving successive terms.

With current federal investigation involving a number of state agencies, candidates promised to "straighten out the mess in Jackson."

Gandy, a native of Hattiesburg, began her career as an aide to the late Sen. Theo G. Biilbo (D-Miss.) in the 1940s. Her only major election loss was in the 1963 lieutenat governor's race to the late Carroll Gartin. CAPTION: Picture, Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy: a quiet compaign and name recognition. AP