Rep. Robert Foster, a freshman Republican House member from Hernando, told several high-ranking Republican officials and potential donors on Friday that he is planning a run for governor in 2019.
Sources in Jackson and DeSoto County told Mississippi Today that Foster, 35, placed the calls on Friday. Foster did not return several calls, text messages or emails from Mississippi Today requesting comment.
It is unclear when Foster plans to make a formal announcement. However, on Nov. 12, Foster foreshadowed a political move on Facebook.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me in politics, but my prayer is that I will always have the right words to say at the right time and will know when to lead, and when to follow,” Foster wrote.
Foster would likely face Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who has built a $6 million war chest in anticipation of a gubernatorial run, in next year’s Republican primary. Reeves’ official announcement is expected in December or early January, before the 2019 legislative session begins.
Petal Mayor Hal Marx is the only other Republican to publicly announce a 2019 gubernatorial bid. Democrat Jim Hood, the state’s attorney general, announced his gubernatorial candidacy in October.
Foster, who manages his family’s tree farm in Hernando, is known in DeSoto County for his blunt social media commentary expressing frustration with the current political climate. A tweet from Foster during the 2018 Senate election caused a stir on the platform, drawing more than 100 replies and five shares.
“Anyone who votes Dem. in 18 is either ignorant or evil,” Foster tweeted on Nov. 5, the day before Election Day.
In the three years Foster has served in Jackson, he has not shied from criticizing the Republican leadership. During the 2018 special session, as Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn worked behind closed doors on a lottery proposal, Foster called the process a “circus.”
The first-term representative has introduced several pieces of legislation about conservative social issues, including the death penalty, welfare, abortion and affirmative action.
In 2017, Foster authored the bill that allowed capital punishment by gas chamber, electrocution and firing squad if lethal injection drugs aren’t available. Gov. Bryant signed the bill into law.
Foster introduced several other bills that died in committee, including a 2017 bill that would “remove affirmative action, multiculturalism and sanctuary of illegal alien students” from public universities. Another failed 2017 bill would require people receiving public assistance to participate in a job skills training program. In 2018, Foster sponsored one of several bills that would prohibit abortion “after heartbeat is detectable.”
Foster also introduced resolutions the past two legislative sessions that would require media outlets to rent space in the Capitol, which would thwart a decades-long policy providing free space to reporters covering the Legislature.
“I know I can be bold, blunt and even brash with my political speak at times, but I mean no personal harm by it,” Foster wrote on Facebook earlier this month. “I am just very passionate about my beliefs and I am not going to silently sit by and let the Radical Left get their way. Whether you realize it yet or not, we are in the political fight of our lives that has been decades in the making.”
Listen to an interview with Foster on The Jungle podcast.