Jim Hood, Mississippi’s only statewide Democrat, to announce governor bid this week

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Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/ Report for America

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood speaks to media during the Neshoba County Fair Wednesday, August 1, 2018.

Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood will announce on Wednesday in his hometown of Houston plans to run for governor in 2019, he confirmed late Monday.

Mississippi Today first reported that Hood will announce his gubernatorial bid in a two-day, six-stop statewide tour starting with a press conference at the Chickasaw County Courthouse in Houston.

But late Monday Hood released a statement, saying, “Out of respect for the Brookhaven police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty last weekend, I will suspend my planned statewide announcements until further notice. I will make a single announcement in my hometown … so that I can attend the funerals of these brave officers on Wednesday and Thursday. Please keep the families of Patrolman James White and Corporal Zach Moak and all of the Brookhaven Police Department in your thoughts and prayers.

The Houston event will occur at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The four-term attorney general – the state’s lone statewide Democratic elected official – has for months publicly flirted with a gubernatorial bid, telling reporters on numerous occasions that he is considering a bid and had been encouraged to run by both Democrats and Republicans.

“I don’t know the answer to your question at this point. I do know that we’ve got to change what we’re doing over there” at the Capitol, he said in 2016 in response to a question about a potential gubernatorial run. “We can’t keep on doing what they’re doing over there right now.”

Hood’s campaign team had planned to hold public events Wednesday not only in Houston, but also in Jackson, and on the Mississippi Coast. Thursday, the campaign had planned to go to Hattiesburg, Indianola and Hernando, according to sources.

Hood is considered the heavy favorite to win his party’s nomination for governor. Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination.

Reeves has not yet announced whether he’ll run for governor, but he reported $5.4 million in cash on hand in January campaign finance reports. Hood raised $662,500 and spent $305,000 in 2017, bringing his total cash on hand to $656,000.

Hood is believed to offer Democrats their best chance to regain the governor’s mansion since 2003 when Republican challenger Haley Barbour defeated incumbent Ronnie Musgrove in a hotly contested race.

But Hood routinely polls as one of the state’s most popular politicians. Hood has focused on cybercrimes during his tenure as attorney general.

His use of outside legal counsel, particularly to pursue lawsuits against large corporations, has been controversial at times – particularly among Republicans.

In recent months, while Hood has admitted contemplating a run for governor, he said he was waiting for his wife, Debbie, to OK the campaign. Sources said that Debbie Hood will introduce her husband at the Wednesday event.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story published on our site before the attorney general issued a press release suspending his planned statewide announcements.