In a Mississippi Today interview with Jim Hood campaign lead strategist Michael Rejebian, after taking his frustration out on “right wing bloggers” who accurately broke the story about the Hood campaign commissioning a robocall from Barack Obama on the eve of the election, he delved more into the decision making process of that campaign initiative.
According to Rejebian (at 25:00 in the interview), the Hood campaign believed they were “tied” with the Tate Reeves campaign going into the last week. However, with Trump coming into northeast Mississippi to speak, Rejebian said the campaign felt the need to react in some way to get out the base in ways that Hood was not able to do.
Subsequently, the campaign scrambled to find someone to connect to Obama and on the Sunday evening before the Tuesday election, Obama cut the audio spot. By the next morning, the robocalls were being deployed. The Obama robocall was initially only to be targeted to 280,000 or so African American voters, but word soon got out. Rejebian also reaffirmed that the Obama call was not planned in advance but was a direct reaction to Trump’s visit and the subsequent momentum that Reeves received as a result.
The backlash among conservative voters was immediate and within hours the robocall went viral with tens of thousands of views on Y’all Politics and through social media channels, and the move largely backfired on the Hood campaign. Other media outlets reluctantly recognized the last minute ploy, but none of them publicly acknowledged the hypocrisy of Hood employing the move after the near exclusive targeting of rural white voters that his campaign had been obsessed with. While Rejebian considered the Obama call to the bullpen a “net gain”, during the interview he never squared the logical disconnect of being tied the week before, having the Obama call as a “net gain” and still losing.
Rejebian also didn’t square the fact that when Hood was confronted by Caleb Bedillion on election day, he quitclaimed any knowledge of the call. Hood said, “You know, I haven’t kept up with them so I really don’t know … You know this time of year you get so much crazy stuff going on. It’s unfortunate that that is all going on, but I think in the end people see through it.”
Hood, of course, eventually lost to Reeves by 6 points despite internal polling from left-leaning Hickman Analytics that reportedly said that Hood led the race by 3 points roughly a month out.
A little revisionist history
During the interview, Rejebian insisted (17:00 – 19:00) that Tate Reeves (and not Bill Waller) was always the candidate they wanted to run against. However, next to Rejebian, one of Hood’s closest political allies was Jonathan Compretta, who engineered a PAC that was pushing messaging negative to Reeves during the runoff. Clearly, Compretta’s PAC spend was an attempt to hit Reeves in the runoff to help Waller.
Compretta and Rejebian worked together on the failed Initiative 42 initiative in 2015.