HOUSTON – Attorney General Jim Hood, standing on the steps of the courthouse in his hometown on Wednesday, officially announced his campaign for governor.
Flanked by several local officials and state legislators, Hood, the only statewide elected Democrat in Mississippi, focused on the importance of a new realm of leadership in Mississippi.
“It’s time for Mississippi to pull together,” Hood said. “It’s time for this partisan, petty politics to stop. It’s time for us to protect our values and create a future for our kids so they can stay here and build a Mississippi that works for everyone.”
Hood said several times Wednesday morning both Republicans and Democrats across the state have encouraged him to run for governor.
In his announcement speech, Hood said the focus of his campaign would be on helping traditionally marginalized communities: “Jesus taught us to fight for the poor and the elderly and the widows and the children – the least among us,” he said. “That’s what’s been ingrained in my public service.”
Hood criticized the Legislature’s giving away hundreds of millions in tax cuts to out-of-state corporations. He floated expanding Medicaid, saying “we shouldn’t leave hundreds of millions of federal dollars on the table.” He expressed concern about the brain drain epidemic in Mississippi, saying state leaders should turn their focus to keeping young Mississippians in the state.
Hood is expected to face Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the 2019 gubernatorial election. When reached for comment on Wednesday morning, Reeves’ spokeswoman declined to comment specifically on Hood’s announcement, citing news of a funeral for a fallen officer from Brookhaven.
“The Lt. Governor will not be commenting on Attorney General Hood’s political announcement or any other political or campaign activities today,” Reeves’ spokeswoman Laura Hipp said in a statement. “Mississippians of all backgrounds will spend today honoring the men and women who proudly wear the badge and risk their lives while protecting our communities. He and (his wife) Elee send their prayers and deepest sympathies to Officer (James) White’s family and the entire Lincoln County law enforcement community.”
White and Cpl. Zach Moak were killed Saturday in the line of duty. Hood attended White’s visitation service on Tuesday evening, but his campaign said the previously scheduled Wednesday announcement did not allow adequate travel time to attend White’s funeral on Wednesday. Reeves, who attended White’s funeral on Wednesday, spoke on stage Tuesday night in Southaven at a political rally by President Donald Trump.
A poll released by Millsaps College and Chism Strategies earlier this week placed Hood’s approval rating higher than any other elected official in Mississippi. Fifty percent of Mississippians approve of Hood, while 27 percent disapprove. Reeves’ approval rating, according to the poll, rests at 37 percent, with a disapproval rating of 32 percent.
In his speech Wednesday morning, Hood took a subtle shot at Reeves. In July, several outlets raised questions about what influence Reeves might have wielded to build a $2 million frontage road connecting his gated neighborhood to a state highway. Reeves denies any involvement. Hood’s office has been investigating that allegation.
“I’m tired of self dealing in Jackson,” Hood said. “People are more worried about paving private driveways than they are about anything else.”
Clarification: An earlier version of this article was not clear on whether Hood attended the funeral for Officer James White. Hood did not attend White’s funeral on Wednesday, but attended White’s visitation on Tuesday evening.