Can you donate now to join our fight?

We just launched the Power to Appoint Fund to highlight the important role Dem Govs play to ensure integrity in our country’s judicial process and protect fundamental freedoms. Your support will ensure we can make crucial investments in key states and protect our democracy. Please don’t wait: rush your gift to elect Democratic governors! >>>

New York Times: Brandon Presley’s Run for Governor Brings Hope to Mississippi

Latest News

New York Times: Brandon Presley’s Run for Governor Brings Hope to Mississippi  

A new New York Times profile highlights how Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is making a serious challenge to incumbent Tate Reeves in Mississippi’s competitive governor’s race.

As Brandon shatters fundraising records and runs neck-and-neck in the polls while “making a strong case that the state desperately needs a change, advocating a series of popular policies that could make a real difference in the lives of Mississippians,” Reeves enters his reelection campaign deeply unpopular and damaged by his role in the largest public corruption scandal in state history.

“I got in this when I saw, as all Mississippi did, millions of dollars aimed at working families got diverted by Tate Reeves and his cronies,” said Brandon Presley. “His own personal trainer, who taught Tate Reeves how to do jumping jacks, got a $70,000 vehicle and was paid $11,000 a month, while we’ve got children going hungry in Mississippi. Well, it made me want to puke.”

Read why Mississippi’s governor’s race is “turning into one of the most interesting races of 2023”:

  • For one thing, thanks to a significant scandal involving the misappropriation of welfare funds, Mr. Reeves is extraordinarily unpopular for an incumbent Republican, with 60 percent of voters saying they would prefer another candidate, according to a Mississippi Today/Siena College poll that came out last week. For another, he has a promising and energetic Democratic opponent named Brandon Presley who has been polling fairly well and is making a strong case that the state desperately needs a change, advocating a series of popular policies that could make a real difference in the lives of Mississippians, particularly those on the lower economic rungs. The contest is already turning into one of the most interesting races of 2023.
  • Mr. Presley, 45, is one of three elected members of the state Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, and is the former mayor of Nettleton, a small town in the bright-red northeast section of Mississippi. He talks energetically about the need to expand Medicaid and save rural hospitals, and why it’s important to eliminate the extremely regressive state grocery tax, and would rather discuss the lives of poor families than his own family ties to a certain popular singer of the same last name from Tupelo, up the road from Nettleton. (Elvis was his second cousin.)
  • His most effective tactic is his unrelenting attack on Mr. Reeves and the welfare scandal that has swirled around him and the previous Republican governor, Phil Bryant. A 2020 state audit found that as much as $94 million in federal anti-poverty money was improperly diverted to two nonprofit groups that used it for favors to lobbyists, celebrities and some lawmakers… Mississippi Today published text messages in August showing that the former state welfare director, who pleaded guilty to federal and state fraud and theft charges last fall, said he was acting on behalf of Mr. Reeves when he siphoned $1.3 million of the welfare money to a fitness program run by the governor’s longtime personal trainer, Paul LaCoste.
  • “I got in this when I saw, as all Mississippi did, millions of dollars aimed at working families got diverted by Tate Reeves and his cronies,” he told me last week. “His own personal trainer, who taught Tate Reeves how to do jumping jacks, got a $70,000 vehicle and was paid $11,000 a month, while we’ve got children going hungry in Mississippi. Well, it made me want to puke.”
  • Mr. Presley is funny and garrulous and is often described as the best natural politician in the state, with an easygoing manner that appeals to voters of all types. He grew up as the son of a low-income single mother and speaks with real empathy about the tens of thousands of poor families, Black and white, who can’t get clean drinking water, proper health care or broadband internet after decades of largely racist neglect by the state.
  • His most significant plan is to fully expand Medicaid in Mississippi, which Mr. Reeves — along with Republicans in nine other states, mostly in the South — refuses to do. As The New York Times recently reported, health care is in a serious crisis in the state, where five hospitals have closed since 2005 and 36 percent of the remaining rural hospitals are at risk of closing from lack of funds. Mississippi’s stubbornness has cost it about $1.35 billion a year in federal funds to hospitals and health care providers, money that could be used for 100,000 poor adults who now have no guaranteed health coverage.
  • Winning there and finally beginning to reverse the detestable policies of the past — an enormously difficult task — will require a candidate who can bring together an unusual coalition of voters with very different interests, and Mr. Presley may be the one to do it. It’s been done next door in Louisiana, where Gov. John Bel Edwards is a Democrat in a similar mold, and if it can happen in Mississippi, it might bring hope to thousands of other voters who have ceaselessly struggled for better lives in the Deep South.

###