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Brandon Presley Is Mississippi’s Strongest Gubernatorial Candidate In A Generation

The Mississippi gubernatorial race this year is one of the most competitive in a century because of Brandon Presley’s unique appeal and Gov. Tate Reeves’ notable unpopularity.


August 9, 2023

TO:              Interested Parties
FROM:        Ron Owens, Brandon Presley for Governor Campaign Manager
DATE:         August 9, 2023
SUBJECT:  Brandon Presley Is Mississippi’s Strongest Gubernatorial Candidate In A Generation

The Mississippi gubernatorial race this year is one of the most competitive in a century because of Brandon Presley’s unique appeal and Gov. Tate Reeves’ notable unpopularity. More than 25 percent of Republicans voted for someone else in yesterday’s gubernatorial primary - another sign of just how weak of an incumbent Tate Reeves is. 

Brandon Presley Has Won In Deep-Red Territory Before 

Brandon Presley is a talented retail politician with a strong record of victory in deep-red territory. Unlike Tate Reeves, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and whose entire political career was bankrolled by his family wealth, Brandon’s personal story of growing up in poverty and having to scrape by is more aligned with working Mississippians who know that he will fight for families like theirs.  

Brandon is the Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District in Mississippi, which is larger than a congressional district. He has been elected in this Northern District four times, earning more than 60% of the vote in his most recent contested election. This is particularly noteworthy given that his district is more Republican than the state as a whole. At the presidential level, Brandon’s Public Service Commission district voted for Trump over Biden in 2020 by a 61 percent to 38 percent margin, making his consistent double-digit wins on the same turf even more impressive. 

Brandon Presley is a uniquely gifted candidate who is “always ready to share an anecdote and his cellphone number with voters.” And his compelling family story is painfully familiar to many Mississippians. He grew up the son of a single mother after his dad was murdered on the first day of the third grade. His mom scraped to get by and provide for their family, sometimes unable to pay for the light and water bills. Brandon understands where Mississippians are because he’s been there himself. 

Brandon has a record of results and plans to back it up. As a mayor and commissioner, he has balanced budgets, cut taxes, and brought high-speed internet to the most remote places in Mississippi. Now, he’s running on his vision to launch a War On Corruption, expand Medicaid, and cut taxes for working people like the grocery tax and car tag fees. 

Tate Reeves Is A Failed Governor Entangled In The Largest Public Corruption Scandal In State History 

More than 1 in 4 Republicans voted for nominal candidates instead of Tate Reeves after 20 years in statewide office. Particularly troubling for Reeves was his showing on the Gulf Coast - which Tate Reeves underperformed to his statewide total, falling under 75 percent in Harrison County, Hancock County, Pearl River County, Jackson County, and George County. 

Reeves underperformed because Mississippians know Tate Reeves refused to take action on the biggest challenges facing the state, and he is entangled in the largest public corruption scandal in state history. Under Reeves’ watch as Lieutenant Governor, millions were steered from taxpayer-funded education and job training programs to pay for the pet projects of his well-connected friends — like a volleyball stadium, a horse ranch, and even a million dollars to his own personal trainer. When the investigator appointed by the state to claw back these misspent dollars got too close to Reeves’ friends and cronies, Reeves fired him and delayed over a dozen depositions into key figures in the welfare scandal.

While Tate Reeves’ friends raked in government money, Mississippians have been quite literally paying the price — the state has the highest tax on groceries in the country, the second highest car tag fees, and hospitals around the state have been laying off staff and cutting services at a breathtaking rate. While neighboring Alabama and Tennessee have slashed and suspended their grocery taxes, Tate Reeves has declined to do so and instead prioritized a tax cut scheme for his wealthy cronies that is so extreme even a supermajority Republican legislature won’t pass it. 

Meanwhile, nearly every week, there is a new story in Mississippi about a hospital laying off employees or on the brink of closure. Whether it is behavioral health services cut in St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, labor and delivery services slashed at Singing River Hospital, or KPC Promise in Vicksburg closing, it’s clear Mississippi hospitals are in trouble. And while healthcare leaders have pleaded for help, Tate Reeves has done nothing. 

Brandon has plans that earn bipartisan support, with 80 percent of Mississippians supporting expanding Medicaid and 58 percent of Mississippians saying they would only vote for a candidate who would cut the grocery tax. 


No poll this year — including Tate Reeves’ own internal polling — has Reeves above 50 percent, a dangerous place for an incumbent to be. In May, a Presley campaign internal poll had this race neck-and-neck with Reeves at 47 percent and Brandon at 44 percent.

That same poll found Mississippi voters have soured on Reeves, with 64 percent saying a typical politician describes him well, 55 percent believing that he is not a strong leader, 54 percent believing that Reeves does not care about people like them, and 51 percent do not believe Reeves shares their values. 

And Brandon is earning crossover appeal in independent polls. In a Mississippi Today/Siena College poll, 21 percent of Republicans who planned to vote in Tuesday’s primary indicated their support for Brandon, showing that the movement to change Mississippi has the support of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. 

Why This Year Is Different — Brandon Is Putting In The Work

This is the first gubernatorial election where we do not have to operate under the old Jim Crow law that required candidates to win statewide by also winning a majority of gerrymandered legislative districts. Our campaign started hiring organizing staff as early as March 1st — five months before past gubernatorial campaigns in Mississippi — to recruit and train volunteers to talk to their neighbors about the stakes of this election. And months before the November election, our campaign has already talked to voters in all 82 counties. 

45,000 votes decided the 2019 gubernatorial race. However, 181,000 registered Black voters did not vote in either of the last two presidential elections and 114,000 of the Black voters who voted in both the 2016 and 2020 elections sat out the 2019 gubernatorial election. 

Brandon has made an early commitment to earning the votes of Black Mississippians. This includes deploying his strong relationships with Black leaders all across Mississippi, including Congressman Bennie Thompson, who made an unprecedented early endorsement within hours of Brandon launching his campaign, and honoring our commitments - including investing in Black communities and hiring dedicated staff to lead outreach to Black voters.

Among those registered to vote in Mississippi, 33.7 percent are Black – compared to Black Mississippians comprising roughly 37 percent of the voting-age population. This difference provides over 185,000 additional Black voters to target for registration, persuasion, turnout, and consolidation that can further shift the state toward Brandon Presley.

We are building a campaign that is capable of going the distance. So far, we have raised more than double the amount Jim Hood had raised - with Brandon raising over $4 million to date to Hood’s $1.58 million at the end of the July fundraising period. And this year, our campaign has outraised Tate Reeves in small-dollar donations by 9 to 1 ($341,831 to $37,412), with our small-dollar donor program continuing to show steady growth. Our campaign has gained early DGA support and also done something rarely done in Mississippi politics - outraising Tate Reeves last month by 4 to 1. 

We are making sure that we are investing this record-breaking fundraising in organizing and paid communications so Mississippians know who Brandon is, know Tate Reeves’ failed record, and turn out in November to demand a better future for the state. 


Brandon is a once-in-a-generation gubernatorial candidate for Mississippi. Tate Reeves is the least popular Republican governor in the country, has consistently polled under 50 percent, and is mired in the largest public corruption scandal in state history. 

We have organized early and engaged African-American voters to close the 45,000-vote gap from the 2019 gubernatorial election. Brandon is focused on the right issues that resonate with all Mississippians, including slashing taxes for working families, expanding Medicaid to keep rural hospitals open, and ending the corruption plaguing our state. 

Brandon has won in tough races before - and he is ready to win this November.

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