Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves thought he would cruise through this Republican primary. He had the highest state-wide name recognition of any Republican running. As lieutenant governor, Reeves served as President of the Senate and can set priorities for the legislature. Yet despite spending millions of dollars and having the top legislative job in Mississippi, Reeves failed to solidify support from within his own party.
What happened? The same arrogant and self-serving attitude marking his tenure as lieutenant governor followed Reeves to the governor’s race. Reeves has spent most of the primary in his own world. He ignored his Republican opponents, avoided proposing real solutions to the problems Mississippians face, fumbled trying to gain the support of Republican state senators, and angered grassroots GOP activists.
And Mississippians are tired of being a second thought to Reeves. Five rural hospitals have shuttered under Tate Reeves, and Mississippians are demanding to know why Reeves sends health care dollars back to the federal government that could have prevented these closures. The state has crumbling roads, yet Reeves pushes his own pet projects at taxpayer’s expense.
Mississippi families are struggling to get ahead — and Reeves doesn’t support giving Mississippians a raise unless they work for him.
Mississippi voters know Reeves is just another self-serving politician who only looks out for himself while Mississippians are left behind. And that’s why he’s vulnerable.
Mississippi’s roads are crumbling and instead of finding ways to fix them, Reeves pushed through transportation projects benefiting himself.
For seven straight quarters, Millsaps College found fixing the state’s roads and bridges is the top priority for Mississippians. Their most recent poll found 79 percent of voters think the state isn’t spending enough money on infrastructure projects.
The state has more than 400 closed bridges and crumbling roads yet Reeves prioritized two pet projects near his own gated community: a $2 million frontage road and a $43 million highway expansion. Reeves tried to strong arm the Mississippi Department of Transportation into building an $2 million frontage road — at the taxpayer’s expense — from his neighborhood to a shopping center. And Reeves took $43 million in state and federal funds away from vital infrastructure needs in order to expand a highway near his neighborhood in 2015.
Reeves’ infrastructure priorities are clear: himself. Reeves’ disregard for Mississippi voters’ top priority harms his chances.
Reeves hasn’t made improving Mississippi’s education system a priority and it’s hurting the Magnolia State’s children and families.
Reeves’ tax giveaway may have helped out-of-state corporations but he hurt Mississippi. The year after the tax giveaway, Mississippi had to cut K-12 education funding by $40 million. And the state’s schools are already receiving less funding than they did a decade ago — and Reeves’ tax giveaway sure didn’t help.
The year after the tax giveaway, Mississippi had to cut K-12 education funding by $40 million.
Even before Reeves’ reckless tax giveaway, Mississippi’s average student loan debt per borrower grew at the ninth-fastest rate in the nation. Mississippi community colleges had to raise their tuition by 13 percent a year after Reeves’ reckless tax giveaway — adding insult to injury for Mississippi students struggling with student debt.
Reeves cut education funding to pay for tax cuts for wealthy out-of-state corporations and saddled students with more debt. With Reeves at the helm, Mississippi students are falling further behind — another key reason why he is vulnerable.
Mississippi’s economy is going to be a major issue in this year’s governor’s race.
A 2018 poll found that a plurality of Mississippians have a pessimistic view of the state’s economy, with 49 percent of Mississippians rating the state’s economy as “fairly bad” or “very bad.”
Mississippi has the second-largest percentage of its workforce relying on the minimum wage at 4.45 percent. The state ranks 49th for affordability of a one-bedroom apartment on minimum wage. Mississippians know the minimum wage isn’t enough to live on, which is why 72 percent of Mississippians support raising the minimum wage.
Reeves does not support giving hardworking Mississippians a raise unless they work for him. While advocating against raising the minimum wage, Reeves gave all of his staff raises as lieutenant governor, according to State Auditor reports from 2012 and 2017.
Reeves orchestrated a massive tax giveaway to large, out-of-state corporations — many of whom are campaign contributors — costing the state precious resources to fix crumbling infrastructure, fund children’s education, and increase access to health care. All the while, he has done nothing to provide relief to hardworking Mississippi families who pay the grocery tax.
Mississippi families are struggling to get ahead — but Reeves puts wealthy out-of-state corporations and himself first.
Reeves stands in the way of Mississippians having quality, affordable health care at every turn.
He opposes Medicaid reform, which would give 313,000 Mississippians health insurance coverage. He’s put himself on the wrong side of Mississippians, with 56 percent of Mississippians supporting Medicaid reform and only 26 percent opposed.
Continuing to refuse federal dollars for Medicaid means more potential rural hospital closures. Also, the state will have given up $14.5 billion in federal dollars for health care while funding $1.7 billion in health care for other states. A new study found that more than half of all rural hospitals lost money from 2011 through 2017 in Mississippi. The Magnolia State already had five rural hospitals shutter. It’s no wonder 56 percent of Mississippians identified preserving the state’s rural hospitals as “very important” in determining how they will vote in this year’s election.
The next governor will also have the power to determine whether Mississippi continues to participate in a lawsuit further sabotaging Mississippians’ health care. The lawsuit would have disastrous effects for Mississippi. And Reeves’ silence has been deafening. Insurance companies could refuse to cover 1.2 million Mississippians with a pre-existing condition, 100,000 Mississippians could lose their health insurance, and Mississippians over the age of 50 could face a $3,300 “age tax.”
Reeves is leaving federal health care dollars on the table that could shore up the state’s rural hospitals and has done nothing to stop the sabotage of coverage for Mississippians with a pre-existing condition — another reason why Reeves is vulnerable.
Reeves’ Unique Unpopularity
Reeves has a tough path to the governor’s office. Reeves’ unique unpopularity and the DGA’s strong track record in states Trump won puts this seat in play.
Reeves is significantly more unpopular than other statewide GOP politicians. In early August, he admitted for the first time he might not win the primary election outright. As Irl Dean Rhodes, a local GOP powerbroker said, “This election is going to be a lot closer than people think” and the saying ‘Anybody But Tate’ is “starting to catch on.” To try and save face, Reeves has had to spend millions of dollars in this primary to cover for his unpopularity.
The Democratic Governors Association flipped seven gubernatorial seats in 2018 and won four gubernatorial races in states where Trump won. The DGA won in Kansas and Montana, states Trump won by 21 points. In Mississippi, Trump won by 17 points. The DGA also helped turn neighboring Louisiana’s gubernatorial seat from red-to-blue in 2015.
Reeves’ arrogance and his record of helping himself instead of hardworking Mississippians will make this his toughest campaign yet. Mississippians are tired of politicians like Reeves who only look out for themselves. “Anybody but Tate” is starting to catch on — and Reeves won’t be able to cover his record much longer.
[Paid for by the Democratic Governors Association]