The three weeks since the first primary have not changed any conclusions about which gubernatorial candidate will best serve the Delta’s interests — and, indeed, the whole state’s.
It’s not Tate Reeves.
Reeves, the two-term lieutenant governor, has outspent his Republican runoff opponent 4 to 1 to confirm that he has no vision other than to say no — except perhaps to those special interests that have kicked so much money into his campaign.
Reeves is against raising the gas tax. He is against expanding Medicaid. He is against doing much of anything for parts of the state where Democratic voters are the majority.
Translated, he is for letting the state’s roads and bridges deteriorate further. He is for letting rural hospitals shut down and people to go without health care until they’re gravely ill. He is for letting the Delta get poorer and smaller.
He is emblematic of the rise of the cynical ideologue in the Republican Party, a movement that has figured out how to get people to vote against their own interests by filling them with half-truths, appealing to their prejudices and saying over and over and over again just how conservative the leaders of this movement are.
If the Reeves’ formula were really best for Mississippi, we would not have one of the slowest growing populations in the country; we would not still be struggling to emerge from a recession that most of the rest of the country but behind it years ago; we would not have so much trouble keeping our own college graduates here and attracting those from other states to come.
There is a better way, and you don’t have to go outside of the Republican Party to find it.
It exists in GOP candidates such as Bill Waller Jr., a decent man and able public servant who is out to help his state more than himself.
The former Supreme Court chief justice and son of a respected former governor, Waller is pragmatic.
He realizes it is insane in a poor state such as Mississippi to thumb our nose at a billion dollars a year in extra federal spending — and the thousands of jobs it will create — because a former Democratic president is credited for the program that has made such a generous offer possible.
He realizes that roads and bridges — the crucial underpinnings of commerce — won’t be repaired or replaced to any significant degree based on a lottery that has yet to pull in the first buck or on playing shell games with state money.
He understands that there’s nothing more important to raising this state’s dreadful education record than having a competent teacher in every classroom, and when schools, especially in high-poverty areas, are woefully short of such educators, it just might be because the pay isn’t enough.
He knows that some of these problems can’t be fixed with the state’s current revenue stream, and that there are some sensible and fair places — such as a gas tax that has not been adjusted in 32 years — to get the necessary revenue.
Throw whatever label you want at the positions Waller has taken in this race. We’d call it commonsensical.
On Tuesday, we recommend that Republican voters make the commonsense choice. Choose Waller.