The potential for the first truly competitive gubernatorial race in Mississippi in 16 years is creating a political buzz even three years out from the 2019 statewide elections.
Two popular and powerful politicians, Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, are eyeing the open seat Gov. Phil Bryant will leave. Neither has officially announced a candidacy. But Reeves running is considered a foregone conclusion by GOP leaders. Democrats are pushing Hood to run as they have for years, but this go ‘round he appears to be seriously testing the water, fundraising and meeting with campaign operatives.
“I do think he wants to run and I do think he will run, and I think a lot of people are encouraging him to run,” said Marty Wiseman, political science professor and longtime former director of the Stennis Institute of Government. “… I do know that Hood is asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of investigative work on who does polling and who does strategizing. It’s more than just pondering.”
But Alan Lange, founder of the Republican-leaning Y’all Politics blog, doubts Hood will actually run for governor.
“I think it’s good politics for him to be talking about it because it clears the field on his side of the aisle,” Lange said. “However, I just don’t sense he has the stomach to run against an extremely well-funded Tate Reeves unless political winds change drastically … Both he and his mentor (former AG) Mike Moore before him have a history of not answering the bell for higher office in the past.”