One day after Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves defeated Judge Bill Waller in the Republican primary runoff, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Hood was in Oxford to meet with business owners and residents about his campaign.
Standing in front of the hard, wooden bookshelves that line Square Books, Hood pulled no punches in describing his general election opponent, Tate Reeves.
When asked if he was worried about negativity in the upcoming campaign, Hood shook his head. “We’ve got a huge sack of rocks, and I’m ready to throw them,” Hood said. “There’s a difference between a judge and a prosecutor.”
Hood repeatedly touted his similarities to Waller, complementing his efforts in the runoff and reminding voters that they are aligned on many of the issues.
“Judge Waller ran a gentlemanly race and raised many of the issues that I’ve been addressing thus far, and we’re going to continue that same effort,” Hood said.
“I think a lot of Judge Waller’s voters will move over and vote for me for governor, and that’s encouraging, because I’m going to represent both Democrats and Republicans, and the things that I’m talking about are not partisan issues.”
Hood faces a daunting task in running a statewide campaign as a Democrat in Mississippi, a state that Donald Trump won by nearly 18 points and hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 2000.
In his acceptance speech following Tuesday night’s runoff victory, Reeves characterized Hood as a “Washington liberal” who’s focused on growing the size of the state government. Hood distanced himself from the liberal moniker, saying there was nothing liberal in his record.
Hood was first elected as attorney general in 2003. He’s won four straight elections for attorney general, and is the only Democrat who currently holds statewide office in Mississippi.
Despite initially saying that he’s ready to wage attacks in the months leading up to November, Hood said he believes the race will be won on the issues, specifically education. He’s proposed statewide K-4 education, free community college — similar to the program that Tennessee already has — and raising teacher salaries to match the southeast average ($50,377, according to the Georgia Association of Educators).
Hood emphasized the necessity of the youth vote in November’s election.
“We’ve lost more young people (from Mississippi) the past six years than any other state in the Union. A lot of it is because tuition has doubled since I took office in 2004,” Hood said. “If we can create an environment where they can afford to stay here, they’ll want to.”
The Mississippi gubernatorial election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.