Although they don’t live in Mississippi and can’t vote for him, Jim Hood has some very big supporters rooting for him in this year’s critical race for governor.
No, I’m not talking about the liberals in Washington, D.C., New York and California.
Yes, they are pulling for him, but that’s not who I’m talking about.
The Hood cheerleaders I’m talking about are the state leaders of Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas and the rest of the Southern states.
These states want Jim Hood elected governor of Mississippi next week because they know if he wins their chances of recruiting big, job-creating companies to their states just got a lot better. In the tough, ultra-competitive world of state economic development, having Jim Hood leading the State of Mississippi’s corporate recruitment efforts essentially means all of those Southern states have one less state to have to compete against.
Jim Hood has built a national reputation in his public career for two things: jackpot justice lawsuits and tax increases. Trial lawyers around the country have learned that the most lucrative mobile number to have in their phones is Jim Hood’s. Mississippi’s attorney general is known as an easy mark because he’s never met a lawsuit he didn’t like.
Big, out-of-state personal injury law firms have come from all over the country to use Hood’s office as their own satellite office as they try to use the threat of state litigation to scare companies into big-dollar settlements. The arrangement means good press and political contributions for Hood and big paydays for the trial lawyers. This scheme is so bad that The Wall Street Journal called it “sleazy” on their editorial page.
I spent eight years as governor traveling the country recruiting companies to Mississippi, and my job was made much more difficult because virtually every corporate leader I talked to had heard of Jim Hood and his unfair practices and expressed reluctance to want to create jobs in Mississippi because of it.
Hood’s shakedown tactics are one of the reasons we passed meaningful lawsuit reform in Mississippi in 2004. Good doctors and quality companies were fleeing Mississippi because of jackpot justice, and Jim Hood was right in the middle of the racket. In 2007, when we announced Toyota was coming to Mississippi to create more than 2,000 new direct jobs, one of their corporate leaders said they would not have come to Mississippi without lawsuit reform.
Now, as a candidate for governor, Jim Hood has an even bigger job-killing passion: tax increases. Jim Hood has already signaled his eagerness to raise taxes on Mississippi businesses and businesses that employ Mississippians. His crusade against “tax giveaways” as he calls them is nothing more than a thinly-veiled continuation of the Warren-Sanders approach to governance. Everyone else calls it what it is — a “tax increase.”
Companies looking to locate and create jobs in a state say the threat of big, non-stop state tax increases on their business and their employees discourages them from wanting to locate there. We don’t need that reputation in the economic development world.
I’m voting for Tate Reeves for governor because he knows that low taxes and a fair legal system are the way to bring jobs to Mississippi. And it’s also the same formula President Trump has used to create the jobs boom in the U.S. today.
Mississippi needs more good, high-paying jobs, and recruiting them will be a tough, competitive business. On Election Day, please remember that electing Jim Hood as governor would not just make that job much harder — but virtually impossible.
Haley Barbour was Mississippi Governor from 2004-2012.