Analysis: New Democrat Johnson has tough campaign ahead

JACKSON — Former state Sen. Tim Johnson jumped from Republican to Democrat last week to launch his campaign for Mississippi lieutenant governor, and he faces a difficult path in a state where the GOP controls seven of eight statewide offices and both chambers of the Legislature.

Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is seeking a second term and is backed by powerful supporters, including former Gov. Haley Barbour. The 40-year-old Reeves served two terms as state treasurer before winning the state’s second-highest office four years ago. He begins this year’s race with about $2.4 million in his campaign fund.

Johnson, 55, starts with no campaign cash, and he said challenging a statewide incumbent could cost at least $1 million. Describing himself as a “reformed Republican,” the businessman who often performs as an Elvis Presley impersonator was greeted with cheers and loud applause from a few dozen Democrats who stood with him in the Capitol as he announced his candidacy.