Jackson, Miss. (AP) — Republicans are keeping their hold on the governorship in Mississippi, despite facing the best-funded Democrat to run for the position in more than a decade.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday defeated Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood and two candidates who ran low-budget campaigns.
Reeves will succeed Gov. Phil Bryant, who is limited by state law to two terms.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both traveled to Mississippi in recent days to campaign for Reeves, who is completing his second term as lieutenant governor after serving two terms as the elected state treasurer.
Reeves, 45, campaigned on keeping taxes low and limiting government regulation of businesses. He also said that a vote for Hood is akin to a vote for “liberal” national Democrats, including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Hood, 57, is finishing his fourth term as attorney general. For three of those terms, he has been the only Democrat holding statewide office in Mississippi.
Hood’s high-profile gubernatorial race came four years after the party’s nominee was Robert Gray, a long-haul truck driver who didn’t vote for himself in the primary, raised little money and lost the general election by a wide margin.
Hood campaigned this year on improving schools and highways and on expanding Medicaid to the working poor. Expansion is an option under the federal health overhaul signed into law in 2010 by then-President Barack Obama. Mississippi is among the 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid, a decision that Hood said has cost the state $1 billion a year in federal money.
Republicans have been governor in Mississippi for 24 of the last 28 years. The last Democratic governor, Ronnie Musgrove, lost in 2003 as he sought a second term.
Reeves is a native of Rankin County. In 2003, at age 29, he was elected as the state treasurer, making him the youngest state treasurer in the nation at the time. Reeves was re-elected in 2007. In 2011, he was elected as lieutenant governor, the position he currently holds. He graduated from Millsaps College with a degree in economics. Reeves defeated both state Rep. Robert Foster and Judge Bill Waller Jr. in Republican primaries.
He opposes the medicaid expansion in Mississippi and supports a free-market approach to health care. Reeves supports raising Mississippi teacher pay to the southeastern average ($47,074) in four years, as well as offering a $10,000 bonus for new teachers in areas of shortage — both geographically and subject-based. He’s also proposed a teacher advisory council that would advise the governor on issues teachers currently face by June 2020.
Reeves is “100%” anti-abortion. He supports the “heartbeat bill,” which states that if a fetus has a heartbeat, an abortion would be illegal.
He wants less gun control legislation and a law that would not allow guns to be seized by the federal government if a state of emergency were declared.