Jennifer Riley Collins, the former executive director of the Mississippi ACLU, is running for attorney general as a Democrat. If elected, she would continue the long line of Democrats who have been elected to the office, but she believes the current Democratic attorney general could be supporting her opponent – Republican nominee Lynn Fitch.
“Given my credentials and experience, I wonder why the Democratic nominee for Governor and current Attorney General appears to be working to get my Republican opponent elected?” Riley Collins tweeted on Sept. 19.
Current Attorney General Jim Hood is running as Democratic nominee for governor, and has held the office of attorney general for the past 15 years.
“My statement didn’t ask for Gen. Hood’s endorsement,” Riley Collins, a native of Meridian, later told the Daily Journal. “The Mississippi Democratic party ruled that nominees are supposed to be supportive of other nominees on our ticket in the same election. I am a Democratic nominee. I support the Democratic nominee for governor.”
The Hood campaign denies the allegation that they are working to get Fitch elected over Riley Collins.
Through a statement sent to the Daily Journal, Hood said he had met with different division directors in the AG’s office to ensure a smooth transition would be possible for the incoming person to take over operations, regardless of who is elected. While the statement did not directly address Riley Colllis’ claims of Hood working to get Fitch elected, Hood did say he was staying out of the attorney general’s race.
“I’m focused solely on my own race for governor,” Hood said in the statement. “My dad gave me an important piece of advice the first time I ran for office in 1995: ‘Work hard in your own race and stay out of everybody else’s.’ I plan to stick by that advice during this election.”
When asked if Riley Collins has seen any specific evidence of Hood supporting Fitch, Riley Collins simply reiterated that the Democratic Party has ruled that Democratic candidates are supposed to support one another.
Bobby Moak, the chairman of the state’s Democratic party and former state representative, told the Daily Journal by telephone that it is not written in the party’s constitution that Democratic candidates must support other Democratic candidates, but he did say the state party supports all of the Democratic candidates currently running for office.
Moak emphasized while the state party does everything it can to support the Democratic candidates, the party does not tell the campaigns to endorse other candidates or tell them “how to run their campaign.”
“I haven’t seen the Republicans doing that, either,” Moak said. “I don’t know the basis for all of (Riley Collins’) comments. I know Jennifer was our hostess at our dinner two weeks ago. I know Jim Hood was at the front table.”
If Fitch, the current state treasurer, is elected attorney general, she would be the first Republican elected to the office since 1878. The Fitch campaign declined to comment for this story.
Riley Collins also tweeted that she urges Hood to reconsider his lack of support for her campaign.
Collins, a former military intelligence officer, has run a campaign centered around advocating to apply equal justice to all citizens and to defend Mississippians who have been taken advantage of.
If elected, she said she plans to implement plans that combat the state’s opioid crisis and continue to hold people accountable under the law. Collins and Fitch will face off in the general election on Nov. 5.