TUPELO • The most well-funded candidate in the race to be Mississippi’s next governor flexed a little campaign muscle Friday and formally opened a dedicated field office in Tupelo.
Incumbent Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves spoke with local supporters and campaign volunteers Friday afternoon, emphasizing his record as presiding officer of the state Senate and promising more of the same if elected to Mississippi’s chief executive post.
Social policies continue to receive an especially strong accent in the lieutenant governor’s stump speech. On the campaign trail, Reeves, a Republican, has largely ignored his primary opponents and highlights the general election race against the Democrat nominee.
“I’m running for governor because I know that Mississippi’s values are Mississippi’s strength,” said Reeves Friday. “As governor, I will fight for those values every single day.”
In his remarks Friday, Reeves did briefly mention his two primary opponents, state Rep. Robert Foster and former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller.
“We’ve got two other people running as Republicans and they’re good people who have served our state well,” Reeves said. “You won’t hear me say anything negative about them.”
The three Republican gubernatorial candidates have agreed to meet in a late-July debate. Foster and Waller have already both both debated twice, with Reeves declining invitations to participate in those debates.
The two-term lieutenant governor holds an imposing fundraising advantage. The most recent campaign finance filings show he still has more than $6 million to spend on the race and continues to raise money at a quick clip.
His most well-financed Republican challenger is Waller, who currently has a little more than $500,000 in cash on hand according to recent campaign finance reports.
The likely Democrat nominee, Jim Hood, has about $1.2 million in cash of hand.
The Tupelo field office for the Reeves campaign is located in a South Gloster Street storefront. It will serve as a hub for local volunteer efforts and campaign activities.
Speaking with the Daily Journal, Reeves promised to defend a bill passed this year that bans an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is around a pregnancy’s six weeks. That bill has been challenged in court.
Reeves also said he wants to retain more college graduates and strengthen the state’s rural areas, and pointed to recent efforts to expand broadband internet access in those rural areas.