MISSISSIPPI | MS-gov

Reeves's Internal Poll Shows Lead Against Hood

The poll was conducted before Waller got in the race.

Feb. 15, 2019, 11:02 a.m.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) released an internal poll (Jan. 27-30; 600 LVs; +/-3.5%) conducted by OnMessage Inc. that showed him leading state Attorney General Jim Hood (D) 51-36 percent, “contradicting other recent polling publicly released.” The poll was conducted before news broke of former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. (R) challenging Reeves in the primary. (Jackson Clarion Ledger)

WALLER. “The former chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court is well respected and has cross-party appeal. His candidacy means there is no longer a presumptive GOP nominee in … Reeves, and it means … Hood could face a much different — and possibly harder to defeat — opponent in the general. … Waller is a serious candidate with serious backing. Expect a lot of Gov. Phil Bryant’s old campaign team to jump on board with Waller. The love-loss between the Bryant and Reeves camps is no secret, even if the two top Republican leaders have seemingly buried the political hatchet as of late.”

“Reeves still has the advantage. For now. He’s got money in the bank, and he’s one of the best fundraisers in the state. He also has statewide name ID, though it’s not all positive.” Waller’s “biggest hurdle right now is statewide name ID. He doesn’t have to build true statewide name ID for the primary; he only has to focus on a handful of counties that decide the GOP primary. And doing so will give him exposure in other areas based on paid and free media coverage. … Having to run for the state Supreme Court, Waller is no stranger to raising money. But raising money for a Supreme Court seat in a third of the state is nothing compared to raising money for a governor’s race. That said, Waller (and his family) have deep roots all across the state. His father was a former governor, and he has traveled Mississippi extensively as chief justice.”

“Where Reeves could be most vulnerable is in a debate over who is better suited to defeat Hood. Based on publicly available polling, that race is tight. Given how red Mississippi is, you have to give Reeves the edge. But Reeves has problems with key voting blocs like teachers and law enforcement. Hood has strong ties to law enforcement and to the ‘courthouse crowds’ throughout the state because of his work as a former district attorney and now attorney general. Those three groups move voters to the polls.”

“Waller doesn’t have a record of voting on issues, which can be a plus. But Waller does have more than 20 years worth of votes on the Supreme Court, and those can be deadly — even if they were judicially wise. Get ready to see ‘Bill Waller set a murderer free’ ads coming your way. No doubt there is at least one case where Waller voted to give a new trial to someone convicted of murder — or rape or incest or some other ghastly crime. Most of those opinions will be lopsided, if not unanimous, but that won’t matter. … The two obvious ways Waller’s entering the race helps Hood is 1) making Reeves and Waller spend more money before the general and 2) the potential for a bloody fight that leaves the winner wounded heading into the general.” (Jackson Clarion Ledger)

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