What's at stake in Mississippi's general election on Tuesday
Incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves will take on Democratic challenger Brandon Presley on Tuesday Nov. 7.LEARN MORE
Voters had to choose between incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and Democratic challenger Brandon Presley on Tuesday.
Scripps News and Decision Desk HQ project incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has won Mississippi’s gubernatorial race, beating out Democratic challenger Brandon Presley with more than 55% of the vote.
The vote pushes Reeves into a second four-year term in the conservative stronghold state, which has been led by a Republican governor for the past 20 years.
Democrats made an aggressive effort to turn the race blue this year though, with Mississippi utility regulator Brandon Presley raising more money than Reeves’ campaign.
This was the first time Mississippi’s gubernatorial race could have gone to a runoff if neither candidate received at least 50% of the vote.
But there was a third candidate on the ballot, because independent Gwendolyn Gray dropped out of the race after ballots had already been set weeks ago. She had since endorsed Presley but still received votes Tuesday.
Due to ballot issues in Hinds County, Mississippi's largest county, one judge ordered some polls to remain open until 8 p.m. CST, and another judge extended voting until 9 p.m. CST in four polling locations in Jackson, the state's capital, allowing extra time for voters who had to wait in long lines in some places that ran out of ballots. As more ballots had to be provided to some locations, the county's supervisor said election commissioners underestimated turnout.
Gov. Reeves was first elected to the state’s top office in 2019 after two consecutive terms as Mississippi's lieutenant governor and two terms as state treasurer before that.
Heading into Tuesday's election, he pointed to his strong economic record in the country's most impoverished state, including the largest tax cut in state history, low unemployment rates and job creation feats. Under his administration, Mississippi also led the nation in improvements to math and reading scores in 2019, and graduation rates have continued to rise.
On the other side, Presley — who is the second cousin of Elvis Presley — spent six years as mayor of his small hometown of Nettleton before being elected to Mississippi’s Public Service Comission in 2007.
He spent much of his campaign connecting with low-income and working-class families, sharing his struggles of coming up in the home of a widowed mother who worked a modest factory job to make ends meet.
Presley focused on acts like tax cuts for the working class, expanding educational opportunities through local investment, and eliminating what he's called widespread government corruption that's at the behest of corporate greed — particularly, a scandal involving the state’s welfare being used to fund wealthy residents’ projects rather than aid the poor.
Though Presley’s campaign raised $11.3 million compared to Reeves’ $6.3 million, it wasn’t enough to take the overly red seat; all of Mississippi’s statewide offices and a wide legislative majority are also Republican.
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