7 November 2023
Tuesday’s elections will decide many questions, including whether populist Democrat Brandon Pressley can win in Mississippi.
Tate Reeves is a desperate man. And desperate people do stupid things.
So stupid that Reeves, the outgoing Republican governor of the largely Republican state of Mississippi, faces not an easy path to a second term in Tuesday’s election, as Republican governors of Southern states have enjoyed in recent decades, but a contest. Which surveys show could end up being a nail biter.
Notably, as Election Day approached, political observers were suggesting that the race for Mississippi’s top post could go so far that the scandal-plagued and mistake-plagued Reeves might actually lose. It’s still a long shot. But even if Democrat Brandon Pressley were to force a runoff in the Magnolia State, let alone win outright, it would be a headline-grabbing upset — and good news for Democrats — on Election Day in an odd year in which voters Will also select one. Governor in Kentucky, where Democrat Andy Beshear appears to be the frontrunner; Decide on a high-level abortion rights referendum in Ohio; Determine control of legislative chambers in Virginia and New Jersey; elect mayors in Houston, Philadelphia, Savannah, and dozens of other cities; And elect local leaders in races like the Pittsburgh-area contest for Allegheny County executive that could put a young progressive, former state Rep. Sarah Inamorato, in charge of one of the most populous counties in the United States.
Every contest matters on Election Day which will determine where things are headed in the 2024 presidential election. But no race has been as entertaining as the one in Mississippi – especially since Reeves started running scared. Or equally strange.
Last week, the governor was whining about Presley posting a photo of himself with actor Morgan Freeman.
“Some people fight for support from Hollywood liberals, I like support from truckers,” grabbed reevesA successful career politician widely known as “Tater Tot”.
The dig at Pressley and Freeman was a clumsy attempt by Reeves, a former financial portfolio manager, with all the political tact of a former financial portfolio manager, to come across as a champion of working people in a state where their very Criticized, he refused to elaborate. Access to Medicaid has been particularly difficult for blue-collar families. The move paid off for Reeves, as the Internet flooded with messages blasting the governor’s culture war effort. Worse, Reeves failed to recognize that Freeman had grown up in Mississippi and now lived on a farm near the north-central Mississippi city of Charleston. Of course, Freeman is an Academy Award-winning screen star with film credits like Driving Miss Daisy And The Shawshank Redemption. But he’s also a local hero in the historic blues town of Clarksdale, where he owns and operates the Ground Zero Blues Club.
So it’s no surprise that Presley, Elvis’ second cousin, whose populist campaign focused on building a multiracial working-class coalition to unseat Reeves, would celebrate the support he received from fellow North Mississippian Freeman. What was surprising was the way the embattled Reeves drew even more ridicule during a campaign that was plagued by headline-grabbing allegations of financial misdeeds, personal vulnerabilities and racial insensitivity by the governor.
After Reeves took a dig at Freeman, the Internet lit up with messages from Mississippians who were shocked that the governor was “attacking one of Mississippi’s own people.”
Pressley, a state Civil Service commissioner who has won several races as a Democrat in Republican-leaning areas of the state, enjoyed the moment. “Tate Reeves is so stupid he’s attacking my endorsement from Morgan Freeman,” Presley declared, “I’ve got news for Tate, if he was running Morgan would have beaten him worse than me in this election. Tate also does not know that Morgan lives in Charleston, Mississippi.
The notion that Presley could defeat Reeves seemed far-fetched at the start of the 2023 race. Mississippi has not elected a Democratic governor since the 1990s, and in 2020 it voted for Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Joe Biden by a 16-point margin. The last time a Democratic presidential contender won the state was in 1976, when former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter won by a narrow margin.
Carter was part of what came to be known as the “New South”, when Democrats formed an electoral coalition of black voters who had been enfranchised by the Voting Rights Act and liberal whites who were looking to the future rather than the past. . Pressley is trying to recreate that politics, running with strong support from the state’s most prominent black elected officials, such as U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, as well as the Mississippi AFL-CIO and newspapers. Greenwood CommonwealthWhich last week hailed the Democrat as a “courageous candidate” who would “counter the madness – for which Reeves is overwhelmingly responsible – of the federal government’s sweetening of increasing Medicaid benefits to an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 of the state’s mostly working poor.” “Calls for rejection of the proposal.”
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Presley has run an energetic campaign that features abundant economic populism, flashes of social conservatism that keeps him on the right of the national party on issues such as abortion rights and repeated references to cousin Elvis. Democrats had attracted substantial funding and enthusiasm in urban and rural sections of the state, which has the largest percentage of black voters in the US. This helped him close the gap with Reeves. According to a Public Policy Polling survey in late October, they had pulled him to within one point of Reeves, with Republicans at 46 percent and Democrats at 45 percent. In such a close race, and with an independent candidate’s name on the ballot (although he has withdrawn and endorsed Pressley), there is a good chance that this contest could go to a runoff election on November 28. is – much like the 2021 runoff elections that saw victories between Georgia Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock.
In a state where the GOP has dominated in recent years, it’s still an uphill climb. But Presley has the potential to gain a last-minute boost from voters who are disappointed with Reeves. The PPP survey found that 68 percent of undecided voters viewed the governor unfavorably. Only 2 percent of those voters had a favorable impression of the incumbent. A lot of this has to do with the allegations of corruption leveled against the Governor in recent years.
The largest scandal, widely considered the most serious in the history of a state that has seen its share of public corruption, involved the misuse of millions of funds by the Mississippi Department of Human Services. At issue are disbursements that were made to nonprofits linked to Reeves and other top Republicans.
The Presley campaign ended with a sharp condemnation of Reeves, declaring, “Nothing Tate Reeves says or does from now until Election Day will change his deep ties to the scandal and the $77 million he owes Mississippians. How they failed to do anything to stop the US’s tax dollars from flowing in.” Lost, stolen, or ruined under his watch. Reeves’ own brother was caught as the backchannel messenger who asked the state auditor to praise him [Mississippi native and former Green Bay Packers quarterback] Brett Favre improperly received taxpayer dollars for speeches and events he failed to attend.”
Presley pressed that issue in a heated exchange with the embattled incumbent last week.
“Seventeen million dollars were diverted for things like Brett Favre on the volleyball court; To Tate Reeves’s personal trainer (who got $1.3 million dollars,” Presley thundered. “And what did Tate do? He fired the independent investigator. He delayed testimony indefinitely 13 times. He “At the center of the largest public corruption scandal.”
It was a dramatic moment, as Pressley had done throughout the campaign, in which Democrats shook up the political calculus in a state Republicans thought they had locked out. And Presley’s finale has been appropriately dramatic. A final advertisement featuring a video of Elvis singing “shake Rattle and Roll,” Brandon Pressley plans to “shake, rattle, and roll” things in Mississippi with a plan to expand Medicaid, rework the tax system to benefit working people, and “put corrupt politicians in jail.” Have promised.