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What Mississippians Are Reading: Brandon Presley Is An “Excellent Campaigner,” And Has “No Problem Crossing Party Lines”

Brandon Presley has Traveled Across the State to Meet With Voters and Volunteers to Kick Off The General Election


August 11,2023

Nettleton - On Tuesday, surrounded by family, friends and good food in his hometown of Nettleton, Brandon Presley became the official Democratic Nominee for Governor of Mississippi.

Early Wednesday morning, the Commissioner met with faith leaders from across the state to kick off the general election with prayer. Throughout the day, he made campaign stops in Olive Branch, Jackson and Hattiesburg to deliver his first speeches across the state as the Democratic nominee and meet with voters and volunteers.

Read more about what Mississippians are saying below:

Daily Journal: Charismatic challenger poses risk to unpopular governor 

Joshua Wilson

August 9, 2023

Can Mississippi elect a Democrat as governor in November?

Conventional wisdom says no, but I think anyone who underestimates Brandon Presley, the Democratic nominee challenging incumbent Republican Tate Reeves, needs to reconsider the race in terms of the governor’s unpopularity.

According to pollsters at Morning Consult, the long-term Jackson insider is one of the country’s most disliked governors. About 42% of the state’s registered voters disapprove of his job performance. Mississippians overwhelmingly want a new governor, with a Mississippi Today/Siena College poll putting the number of people willing to vote for someone else over Reeves at about 60% in April.

Why is the governor so unpopular? The reasons vary. Many political commentators say he failed to adequately lead the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when national health officials urged all public places to close to ward off further infections, Reeves refused to shut down church services. He also rushed to reopen businesses, a move that may have caused coronavirus cases to spike.

Reeves is also embroiled in the state’s ongoing welfare funds scandal. Although he wasn’t the state’s chief executive when the federal money was misspent, questions have swirled about his knowledge of the incident and his connections to it.

Additionally, some conservative voters feel the governor betrayed them on the issue of the then-state flag. He flip-flopped on the matter, first saying voters should decide the fate of the flag, which was adopted in 1894 and featured the Confederate battle flag. He then changed his mind, saying he would approve of a new flag if the state Legislature passed such legislation. They did, and he signed it into law.

Democrats have also successfully painted Reeves as an out-of-touch politician. They have used matters like his failure to expand Medicaid as a testament to this portrayal. While Mississippians overwhelmingly favor the expansion of the federal program, he continues to block it. His position is slowly killing the state’s rural hospitals, according to a March article from The New York Times.

Medicaid expansion would bring the state about $1.35 billion in federal money and would immediately help thousands of low-income Mississippians, but Reeves seems to only want to tackle GOP talking points that don’t really affect the state’s citizenry.

For example, during this campaign cycle, he has obsessed over transgender women and girls competing in sports. Mississippi Today analyzed this matter and couldn’t identify a single instance of this talking point occurring in the state. The governor’s attacks on trans people are nothing but a tactic designed to vilify the LGBTQ+ community while appealing to his far-right base.

On the other side of the gubernatorial contest sits Presley, a public service commissioner from north Mississippi. According to his campaign website, he is focused on three primary issues: fighting corruption in state government, cutting taxes to create jobs, and expanding Medicaid.

Presley is an excellent campaigner and much more charismatic than Reeves, but is that enough to get him elected in our red state? In a recent article for Vox Media, Ben Jacobs writes that, in order to win in November, Presley must “motivate the state’s Black voters to turn out, persuade the state’s remaining swing voters to support him and do absolutely nothing to motivate the Trump base, who voted in record numbers in 2020.”

We’ll see if Presley can accomplish those big tasks. I wouldn’t count him out just yet.

Washington Examiner: Who’s the Democrat running against Gov. Tate Reeves ahead of Mississippi’s governor primary 

Eden Villalovas

August 8, 2023

As the Mississippi primary election commences, the battle for governorship is the most high-profile statewide race on the ballot.

Voters are poised to nominate incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley to face off in the general election this fall.

The Republican Party currently has a majority in the state, holding the offices of governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and both chambers of the state legislature. The GOP has had a hold on the Mississippi governorship for the past 20 years, but a change may be on the horizon.

Presley, a distant cousin of Elvis Presley, is the highest elected Democratic state official in Mississippi, potentially paving the way to flip the governor's seat blue. A June poll of Mississippians likely to vote in the 2023 GOP primary showed 21% of Republicans were likely to vote for Presley. Those numbers could come to fruition in the Tuesday election.

Here is everything we know about Presley, the unopposed Democratic candidate.

At the age of 23, Presley ran for mayor in his hometown of Nettleton, Mississippi, winning with 78% of the vote in 2001 and becoming one of the youngest mayors in state history. Presley served for several years before running for Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District of Mississippi, where he won his race and has been reelected three times.

Where he stands on the issues

Presley describes himself as a “Populist, FDR-Billy McCoy Democrat” and strongly supports campaign finance reform, running his platform on opposing corruption and advocating ethical spending.

He’s committed to expanding Medicaid, promising to launch his healthcare plan for Mississippi on the first day he takes office, which includes keeping hospitals open and creating resources to compare prescription drug prices.

“Tate Reeves has taken over $480,000 from health insurance and big drug companies, and he’s done their bidding by keeping healthcare costs high while Mississippians struggle to get the care they need to stay healthy,” Presley said.

Diverting from his party, Presley has said he wouldn't work to overturn the ban in Mississippi on transgender youth undergoing medical procedures such as hormone therapy or other gender-transition treatments.

“As a man of faith who is pro-life, I’ve never once had an issue disagreeing with my party when they’re wrong, so I’ll be clear: I don’t think boys should be playing against girls, and girls shouldn’t be playing against boys,” Presley told Mississippi Today last month. "I don’t think minors should be getting surgery to change their gender.”

His position on abortion is vastly different from most in the Democratic Party, telling the New York Times that to him being anti-abortion means supporting and funding hospitals, doctors, and emergency services.

Presley is focusing his campaign on fixing the state’s economy, which he believes is harming the middle class and the poor while contributing to the wealthy.

2023 gubernatorial campaign

The Democrat who has no problem crossing party lines announced his run for governor in January.

Presley has attacked Reeves over a welfare misspending scandal that occurred when Reeves was serving as lieutenant governor for several years starting in 2012.

“Under Tate Reeves, millions were steered from education and job programs to help his rich friends," an attack ad from Presley states in an attempt to expose one of the largest corruption scandals in Mississippi.

“The facts are clear that the transgressions occurred before Tate Reeves was governor, and he has supported vigorous and effective prosecution against those involved,” a response from Reeves's campaign said.

Reeves pledged to give campaign donations to people who were arrested in 2020 on misspending charges related to welfare money that was supposed to help the lower class. Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director John Davis and five others were arrested. The Republican governor has denied any involvement in which projects received funds.

WJTV: Stage set for Reeves v. Presley in Mississippi General Election

Richard Lake

August 9, 2023

The stage has been set for the General Election in Mississippi’s gubernatorial race.

Incumbent Governor Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) staved off two primary challengers. He will now face the Democratic nominee for governor, Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley.

Presley ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

During his address to supporters in Jackson on Tuesday, Reeves set his sights solely on the November election.

“The national Democrat machine is counting on Brandon to take a chainsaw to Mississippi’s conservative laws. They think Mississippi values are wrong. Friends, we are not going to let Biden, Bennie and Brandon run Mississippi,” Reeves said.

As the incumbent continues to cast Presley as a radical Democrat, Presley is doing all he can to remind voters of the welfare scandal. He accused Reeves of being out of touch with the rest of the state.

“He has been caught in the middle of the largest public corruption scandal in Mississippi history. And don’t let him sell you on the idea that somehow he didn’t know anything about it,” Presley said. “Governor Reeves is living in La La Land if he doesn’t think I have Mississippi values. I think my values of hard work and growing up in a struggling family when compared to his, it is much more in line with the average Mississippian.”

The Democrat’s policy pitch to voters has been focused on healthcare and ethics reform. He supports Medicaid expansion, while pledging to change what he believes is a broken political system.

Reeves has been leaning on Mississippi’s economic and educational gains, as well as conservative policies.

“From the inaugural stand, I would sign an executive order enrolling the Mississippi Division of Medicaid in Medicaid expansion immediately. I am not content with the system as it is. I hate the system. And if I’m elected governor, we’re going to make sure we change it,” Presley said.

The General Election will be held on November 7, 2023.

Daily Memphian: Brandon Presley says DeSoto County could be 'key' in bid for MS governor 

Beth Sullivan

August 9, 2023

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Brandon Presley, speaking a day after his primary victory, believes DeSoto County could be key in his race to be Mississippi’s next governor.

“DeSoto County is a county in which we know there are a lot of votes that we could go out and when we reach people, we can get folks to come and vote in November,” said Presley, speaking to a small contingent of supporters at Olive Branch City Park on Wednesday, Aug. 9.

“Some people had written (DeSoto County) off and said there’s no chance of winning in DeSoto County. I don’t believe that, and this campaign doesn’t believe that,” Presley said. “We believe this is key to our strategy to win (in the general election) on November the seventh.”

Presley, who currently serves as public service commissioner for Mississippi’s Northern District, will face incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in the Nov. 7 general election.

Presley said DeSoto County could be key, in part, because of its status as one of the most populous counties in Mississippi. He also reiterated that he hasn’t written off any county in his race.

“We’re not just going to say, ‘well, DeSoto County has voted Republican over the last so many years,’” Presley said. “I believe that you go out and ask voters to vote for you, and we’re going to do that all over DeSoto County.”

Presley touched on the main tenents of his platform during a brief speech at Wednesday’s event, including Medicaid expansion, improving health care infrastructure, eliminating the state’s grocery tax and ethics reforms.

Presley’s pledge to expand Medicaid resonated with Hernando resident Molly Seever, 43, who came out to show her support Wednesday. “I have … two sisters and a sister-in-law that work in different hospitals, and so they are very much affected by the Medicaid expansion,” Seever said. “That’s what we need, health care for everyone.”

Southaven resident Dayna Simoneaux, 56, said she supports Presley because she sees him as a candidate who “supports the people … not the good ol’ boys.” Simoneaux, a two-time cancer survivor, also expressed concern about inadequate health care access in other parts of the state, especially for cancer patients.

“I lived in an area where my chemo and my cancer center was just around the corner down the street,” Simoneaux said. “People say in middle Mississippi, it’s two hours to the hospital. You’re already very, very sick and very, very weak, and to say you have to get in a car and drive two hours to go every week to have a chemo treatment, that is just absurd.”

Wednesday’s event marked Presley’s second campaign appearance in DeSoto County in less than a month following a political rally held at the Walls Volunteer Fire Department in July. The event was one of several general election kickoff events Presley was scheduled to host across the state Wednesday, including stops in Jackson and Hattiesburg.

North Mississippi Herald: Presley Is Hard On The Campaign Trail 

David Howell 

August 9, 2023

I spent a little time in the park with Democrat gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley Friday afternoon. I believe if a candidate seeking a statewide office takes time to stump at a local event in the county, they deserve a little coverage in the Herald. Especially since many candidates take the rural areas for granted.

Presley has been impressive during his four terms as Northern District Public Service Commissioner. His response to requests from constituents is legendary, I have heard countless stories from people he has helped, and about his prompt response to calls and emails. Granted as a Democrat, he faces an uphill battle against Republican incumbent Tate Reeves, but he is adamant that he will work harder that Reeves and become the first Democratic Governor since Ronnie Musgrove.

I remember another uphill battle from his days as Commissioner as he led the charge for the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act that allowed electric cooperatives to bring high speed internet to rural areas in the state (Think TVIFiber). Presley’s work pushing this bill during the 2019 Legislative Session is coming to fruition for hundreds of people in the county. Many people thought that the powerful lobbyist from AT&T and other big companies were going to kill that bill.

Presley is confident that he can earn more votes than Attorney General Jim Hood, who was defeated by Reeves in the last election by 45,000 votes. He shared details of a massive statewide campaign in June that focuses on a strong ground game that will include campaign stops in places in the state that have never seen a governor candidate. Presley is equally confident that people in Mississippi are ready for new leadership.

“Just coming through this crowd tonight, I have people say, ‘I have been a lifelong Republican, but I am going to vote for you. I have voted for you four times and I know who you are.’”

Presley also said Reeves is tied to be the most unpopular governor in America.

“I think people in Mississippi are willing to turn the page on him. They want new leadership who will clean up corruption in Jackson, help save our hospitals and help fund education,” Presley stated.

Presley stressed his goal as governor is to work across the aisle and get things done and be a team player.

“Because at the end of the day it is about what is best for Mississippi, not what is best for a political party,” he stressed.

Presley is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.

“I have one in my car, I tell people to come over and check out the console on that SUV and you will see where I am at on Second Amendment,” he said.

And I couldn’t help but chuckle a little as he hurried over to the watermelon drop.

“Holler if I can help you,” he told me.

That is one campaign promise I know he will keep.

WDAM: Brandon Presley meets supports at Hattiesburg residence

Charles Herrington

August 9, 2023

  • [TRANSCRIPT] All eyes are on the governor's race between incumbent Tate Reeves and Democrat Brandon Presley.

  • Presley was in Hattiesburg campaigning the first day after the primary elections. He stopped at the Tommie Davis home for an event for his supporters and talked about facing off against Governor Reeves, who easily won Tuesday's republican primary.

  • “We're going to continue pressing the case that it's time to turn the page on Tate Reeves as governor. I think people in Mississippi want a breath of fresh air, they want a change in state government and some of that comes down to ethics reform, cleaning up corruption in state government. Again expanding Medicaid to save our hospitals, but also bringing hope to the state.”

  • Presley also made campaign stops today in Tupelo Olive Branch and Jackson.

WCBI: Mississippi Governor candidate Brandon Presley makes stop in Starkville

August 8, 2023

  • [TRANSCRIPT] While candidates across the state will be watching Tuesday night's primary returns, one candidate for Governor is already focused on November.

  • Brandon Presley was in Starkville today visiting businesses and talking to residents while he kicked off the next phase of his campaign.

  • Without an opponent in the primary, Presley has already been focusing his attention on Republican frontrunner Tate Reeves.

  • Today he was touting his small town upbringing and his grassroots start in politics as mayor in his hometown of Nettleton.

  • Presley wants to see ethics reform in Jackson and help Mississippi’s struggling hospitals and the people who rely on them.

  • “Mississippi's only one of ten states in America that's not expanding Medicaid for working people. These are folks who are sacking groceries right now, they're changing oil right now – they work every day except they do not have access to healthcare.

  • We can do that through a smart pro business way in which we expand Medicaid but this governor has cost Mississippi over 10 billion dollars of federal funds that could be saving our hospitals, helping us get healthcare up in Mississippi to a higher standard and he doesn't care.”

WAPT: Race For Governor

August 8, 2023

  • [TRANSCRIPT] Reeves and Presley will go head to head in that November general election.

  • Brandon Presley currently serves as the Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District. He also formerly served as the mayor of his hometown at Nettleton, he spoke to voters after winning the primary in his hometown.

  • “Tonight we've got joining us in the crowd, so many of you who maybe have not participated in the process. One of the things I'm proudest of in this campaign has been the campaign staff that y'all have been able to meet tonight. Folks that have come to this state, come from all across this state, to help us take a message to Jackson that we want to take our state back.

  • I’m mainly, very mostly, I should say, I’m proud of the young people. Look, I got started as mayor when I was 23 years old. Caleb, there's a lot of y'all out there that are young folks that are organizing on our campuses all across the state. We're doing dorm storms, we're doing campus boot camps and to watch the enthusiasm of young voters to come out and say, we're going to take destiny into our hands.

  • And the general election is November 7th.


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