Republican Tate Reeves wins Mississippi’s governor’s race
Republican Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves won Mississippi’s governor’s race Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Attorney General Jim Hood, according to the Associated Press. The win shows a sign of stability in the state for President Donald Trump, who became involved in the race earlier this year and threw a rally last Friday in Tupelo.
Turnout in the state was consistent with 2015’s gubernatorial election, with about 29% of the state’s population showing up to vote on Tuesday.
Unlike in Kentucky, the two candidates shared similar stances on typically-conservative social issues like abortion and gun rights. Their race became more about state policy, with Medicaid expansion emerging as one of the starkest differences between the two.
Hood supported using federal funds to expand healthcare in Mississippi, which is one of 14 states that didn’t expand Medicaid in 2010. Reeves labeled it “Obamacare expansion” and said there would be a cost to the taxpayer.
On the day before the race, voters may have received a robocall from President Barack Obama advocating for Hood. An Obama spokeswoman confirmed Obama recorded the call, in which he talks about Hood’s pro-Medicaid expansion stance.
“Jim Hood will expand Medicaid to cover 300,000 more people and fight to keep Mississippi’s rural hospitals open — to raise teacher pay, and build an administration as diverse as Mississippi,” the robocall script reads.
Trump won the state by 17 points in 2016. During his Tupelo rally, he said he was surprised to be in Mississippi fighting for a Republican to win a gubernatorial race.
“You know, I can’t believe this is a competitive race. It’s like embarrassing. I’m talking Mississippi. I’m talking Mississippi. I can’t believe it. I don’t think that [Hood] should be the right guy. I think the guy you want is Tate Reeves.”
The Trump campaign issued a statement Tuesday night celebrating Reeves’ win. “President Trump’s rally and endorsement in Mississippi undoubtedly had an impact and helped Governor-elect Tate Reeves nail down his victory,” the statement said. “Governor Reeves will be a tremendous conservative leader for Mississippians in fighting for freedom and keeping taxes low.”
Hood was seen as a formidable Democratic candidate for the state. The four-term attorney general won every county in the state for the primary, and claimed victory by a wide-margin in previous state elections despite Mississippi’s pronounced conservative lean. He even borrowed Mr. Trump’s “drain the swamp” messaging to use against Reeves.
“I can’t do anything about the swamp that the president is trying to clean up in Washington with all that bickering and things going on. But I can drain the swamp here that Tate Reeves has created,” he said at a Tupelo press conference ahead of Trump’s visit.
Despite being the right-hand man to current Governor Phil Bryant, who is very popular in the state, Reeves struggled to win the Republican nomination. He was unable to win the GOP nod outright in May, and only secured the nomination after a run-off in August.
But his win means three straight Republicans will sit in the governor’s seat. It’s also a welcome sign for the White House, who deployed President Mike Pence for an event on the state’s gulf coast on Monday.
“If you want to send a message to Washington D.C. that enough is enough, and Mississippi is tired of the endless investigations and partisan impeachment. If you want to send a message to the do-nothing Democrats in Mississippi and America, support President Donald Trump — vote Tate Reeves to make the next governor of Mississippi,” Pence said Monday.
Aaron Navarro, Eleanor Watson and Grace Segers contributed to this article.