Mississippi governor candidate Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves speaks during the Rankin County Republican Women’s “Meet the Candidates” event at the Brandon Municipal Complex Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is far outdistancing his opponents in this year’s  governor’s election with $6.3 million in cash on hand less than two months before the Aug. 6 party primary.

Reeves raised $545,683 during the month of May, according to the campaign finance report filed Monday with the office of Secretary of State.

Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., who is challenging Reeves in the Republican primary, raised $175,573 during the same time period and has cash on hand of $541,126.

In a statement, Waller, who did not enter the race and begin fundraising until late February, said: “I’m very encouraged and appreciative of the support of people all across Mississippi who are joining our campaign that’s focused on addressing the big challenges we face right here at home — like rebuilding our roads and bridges, saving access to rural health care and supporting our teachers and students. Ignoring problems won’t fix anything and that’s why I’m proposing ideas and solutions to position our state and economy for more growth and opportunities in the future.”

The third Republican in the race, freshman state Rep. Robert Foster of DeSoto County, raised $34,793 during March and has $16,596 in cash on hand. Foster missed the 5 p.m. deadline to file his report, he said because he was searching for an internet connection in Smith where he was campaigning; he filed the report less than 30 minutes after the deadline.

But Foster has maintained that he is running a grassroots campaign and that he would be able to overcome the fundraising advantage of Reeves and other candidates.

In a statement, Reeves focused on his expected Democratic opponent – Attorney General Jim Hood, not his Republican foes.

“Conservatives across Mississippi know that Tate Reeves is the only candidate who can defeat the Democrats this November,” said campaign spokesman Parker Briden. “We’re grateful to everyone who has invested to help protect our values in this vital race. We cannot allow Jim Hood to give his liberal party a foothold here in Mississippi.”

Hood raised $210,373 in the month of May and has cash on hand of $1.2 million

In a statement, the campaign said, “Jim Hood’s bipartisan campaign to build a better Mississippi that puts the interests of Mississippi families first continues to gain strength. We have more cash on hand and greater grassroots support than we had a month ago.

“Voters increasingly support Jim Hood’s campaign to fix roads and bridges and improve schools, keep rural hospitals open, cut the grocery tax and create good paying jobs.”

Seven other Democrats are vying in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary against Hood. The only other elected official in the primary, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, raised $3,400 in May and has $1,715 cash on hand.

William Bond Compton Jr. of Meridian raised $1,000 and has no cash on hand.

The other Democrats, Michael Brown, Robert Ray, Gregory Wash, Velesha Williams and Albert Wilson had not filed by late Monday.

Bob Hickingbottom, a third party candidate, reported no cash on hand and had raised $2,000. And independent David Singletary raised $250 and has no cash on hand.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.