A contested Republican primary and runoff dented the cash cushion of Tate Reeves, but the lieutenant governor still has more money than Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood as the two wrestle for the governor’s chair.
Reeves burned through $5.8 million between July and September to win the GOP nomination, including $3.2 million he dug out of his savings accounts, cutting his once-towering cash pile. Reeves fought off state Rep. Robert Foster and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. in the Republican primary and runoff.
Reeves was down to $3.3 million on hand as of Sept. 30, but he still had more money for the stretch run to the Nov. 5 general election than Hood, who had $1.3 million on that date.
The heaviest-spending governor’s race in Mississippi history was the 2003 contest in which Republican Haley Barbour evicted one-term Democrat Ronnie Musgrove from the governor’s mansion, beginning a period of GOP rule that has now stretched 16 years. Barbour and Musgrove spent $18 million total that year, not including another $5 million spent by the Republican Governors Association to aid Barbour. If Hood and Reeves only spend the money they had on hand on Sept. 30 and don’t raise another dime, they’re on track to spend $16 million this year.
Both, of course, are still raising money. Reeves took in $2.6 million during the three-month period, including $629,000 from Washington-based political committee Mississippi Strong, $50,000 from Laurel chicken magnate Joe Frank Sanderson and $40,000 from a company controlled by Flowood payday lender Franc Lee.
Hood raised $2.1 million during the period, including $1 million from the Democratic Governors Association, more than $200,000 from labor unions and $50,000 from bestselling author and former Democratic state representative John Grisham.
Hood spent $2.3 million during the period, as he won a Democratic primary with about 70 percent of the vote.
Independent David Singletary raised $750 and spent $6,200 during the period.
In the lieutenant governor’s race, Republican Delbert Hosemann began to break into his savings, spending more than $800,000 while raising more than $500,000. The three-term secretary of state still has $2.7 million in cash on hand thanks to money he raised earlier. Among the largest donors to Hosemann in the period were Sanderson and the Mississippi Health Care Association committee, representing nursing home operators. Each gave $25,000.
Democrat Jay Hughes of Oxford continued to largely self-fund his candidacy, loaning his campaign $302,000 during the period while raising about $80,000 from outside sources. So far this year, Hughes has funneled nearly $975,000 to his own campaign, while others have given about $140,000. Hughes spent more than $400,000 during the period, leaving him with $245,000 on hand.
Republican Lynn Fitch raised $550,000 and spent $560,000 as the incumbent state treasurer survived a three-way primary and won a runoff against lawyer Andy Taggart. Fitch continued to raise money from a mix of lawyers and business groups, including $50,000 from the Republican Attorneys General Association after her runoff win. Fitch had $220,000 on hand. Democrat Jennifer Riley Collins’ report was unavailable Thursday evening.