Money may not be everything, but in politics it sure means a lot. And if money is used as a measuring stick in this year’s Mississippi elections, it points to Tate Reeves winning the governor’s race and fellow Republican Delbert Hosemann succeeding Reeves as lieutenant governor.
According to The Associated Press, Reeves is by far the leading fundraiser among candidates running for governor. At the end of April, he had three campaign funds holding a total of $6.7 million.
His main Republican primary opponent, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., is playing catch-up. He raised only $582,000 through April and reported $513,000 on hand.
Jim Hood, the attorney general who is the leading Democratic candidate for governor, also trails Reeves in finances. Hood reported about $1.2 million in cash on hand at the end of last month.
In the lieutenant governor’s race, Hosemann has an advantage similar to Reeves’.
Hosemann, currently the secretary of state, reported $2.7 million in cash on hand. His main opponent, Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, has only $162,000 on hand. Hughes has raised a total of $806,000 — including a big chunk of his own money — and already has spent $644,000.
If the money’s a reliable signal, it’s saying that Reeves will beat Waller in the primary and then beat Hood in the general election. It’s also saying that Hosemann will beat Hughes for the lieutenant governor’s job.
It’s too early, though, to predict those results with great confidence. Reeves and Hosemann have the finances, the name recognition and the Republican pedigrees, but they still have to turn all that into votes this fall. Still, it is impossible to overlook what is shaping up to be major financial advantages.
There’s at least one race that, based on the financial reports, appears to be a close one: attorney general.
It seems likely that the winner will come from three Republican candidates: Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch and attorney Andy Taggart. Baker had $368,000 cash at the end of April, Fitch $415,000 and Taggart $223,000.
Meanwhile it was fairly slim pickings for the lone Democratic candidate in the race, Jennifer Riley Collins. She ended April with $18,387 in her campaign coffers.
The wide disparity in fundraising would suggest one of two things. Either Democratic supporters are holding back to see who emerges from the GOP field, or they have all but conceded the attorney general’s race to the Republicans.
If it’s the latter, it would mean the GOP juggernaut in Mississippi politics has cleared one of its last hurdles, claiming the only statewide office that the Democrats have been able to reliably hold onto over the past two decades.