Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood outraised their respective primary opponents in the first four months of 2019, boosting their candidacies going into the August primary and fueling speculation of a formidable November general election bout.
Reeves, the second-term lieutenant governor who has been endorsed by Gov. Phil Bryant and other GOP officials, raised $1 million between Jan. 1 and April 30, giving himself $6.7 million in cash to spend moving forward.
Hood, the fourth-term attorney general who observers consider the Democratic Party’s best shot at the Governor’s Mansion since 2003, raised $755,000 in the first four months of this year, giving himself $1.2 million cash on hand.
Bill Waller Jr., the former chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court who is running in the Republican primary, raised $583,000 in just eight weeks of fundraising since publicly announcing his bid. Of that figure, his campaign spent $69,000, giving him $513,000 cash on hand.
Fundraising during the first four months of a gubernatorial election year is crucial to the viability of a candidacy. As figures from the first four months of 2019 fundraising were released on Friday, candidates have less than three months before the August primary, where one candidate from each party will be elected to move onto the November general election.
Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, who served as governor from 2000 to 2004 and lost his reelection bid to Haley Barbour in 2003, said that early fundraising often weeds out the small-time challengers from the serious contenders.
“The more money someone has raised, the stronger the potential chance for him winning becomes,” Musgrove said on Mississippi Today’s election podcast this week. “If you raise over $500,000 in the first quarter, you have to give the person the benefit of the doubt.”
All of the other gubernatorial candidates reported modest fundraising totals on Friday.
The next-closest Democratic primary candidate to Hood was Velesha P. Williams, a retired administrator at Jackson State University, who raised $18,000 and has no cash on hand. Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith raised $11,000 and has $300 cash on hand.
Besides Reeves and Waller, the only other Republican in the race, freshman state Rep. Robert Foster, R-Hernando, raised $73,000 in the first four months of the year and has $18,900 cash on hand.
Republican candidate fundraising, Jan. 1 through April 30:
Robert Foster: $73,000 raised, $18,900 cash on hand
Tate Reeves: $1 million raised, $6.7 million cash on hand
Bill Waller Jr.: $583,000 raised, $513,000 cash on hand
Democratic candidate fundraising, Jan. 1 through April 30:
Michael Brown: $0 raised, $0 cash on hand
William Bond Compton, Jr.: $1,000 raised, $0 cash on hand
Jim Hood: $755,000 raised, $1.2 million cash on hand
Robert J. Ray: $0 raised, $0 cash on hand
Robert Shuler Smith: $11,000 raised, $300 cash on hand
Gregory Walsh: No paperwork filed with the Secretary of State’s office.
Phillip “Bucket” West: No paperwork filed with the Secretary of State’s office.
Velesha P. Williams: $18,000 raised, $0 cash on hand
Albert Wilson: No paperwork filed with the Secretary of State’s office.
Independent candidate fundraising, Jan. 1 through April 30:
David R. Singletary: $715 raised, $0 cash on hand