Gov. Tate Reeves speaks to supporters at Stribling Equipment in Richland, Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves boasts significantly more campaign dollars on hand than Brandon Presley, his Democratic opponent, providing the incumbent governor a substantial financial cushion over his top competitor.

Reeves, according to his campaign finance report, raised over $1.7 million during the first four months of this year, bringing his total amount of cash on hand to more than $9 million from his Tate for Governor account and his legacy J. Tate Reeves account.

Presley raised around $1.4 million this quarter, totaling $1.6 million that he has in cash on hand.

While Reeves has far outpaced Presley with expendable cash, the two candidates vying for the Governor’s Mansion raised close to the same amount of money this quarter.

Campaign contributions often provide a snapshot into how aggressive a race will become, give voters an idea of which groups are backing a particular candidate and show what candidates are spending their money on.

The governor’s largest campaign contributor was $50,000 from the Mississippi Association of Realtors PAC. Other sizable donations include $35,000 from the mega lobbying group the Clay Firm, $40,000 from former state lawmaker Johnny Morgan and $25,000 from Gulfport Memorial Hospital CEO Kent Nicaud. 

Presley’s largest campaign donor was a $250,000 check from the Mississippi Hospital Association. Other notable contributions include $50,000 from former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, $25,000 from former Secretary of State Dick Molpus and $45,000 from the Mississippi Sierra Club PAC.

William Waller, the son of former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. who challenged Reeves in the 2019 Republican primary, also donated $500 to Presley.

Reeves, as the incumbent and a longtime statewide official, has far more name recognition and a larger base of supporters and has long attracted high-dollar donors. Presley, on the other hand, has been running more of a grassroots-style campaign focused on connecting with voters directly.

Ultimately, the campaign finance reports show that both candidates have raised serious amounts of money since January and are likely to run competitive campaigns in the coming months. 

Presley will likely use his cash to generate name ID and introduce himself to voters in parts of the state that he hasn’t represented as a utilities regulator from north Mississippi. Reeves, on the other hand, will almost certainly use his largesse to and generate negative ads about Presley and boast accomplishments of his first term as governor.

Candidates must submit their next campaign finance report on July 10. 

Editor’s Note: Jim Barksdale and Dick Molpus are donors of Mississippi Today. Barksdale served as a founding member of the Mississippi Today board of directors. A list of Mississippi Today donors can be found here, and Mississippi Today’s board of directors can be found here.

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Taylor, a native of Grenada, covers state government and statewide elections. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and Holmes Community College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Taylor reported on state and local government for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, where he received an award for his coverage of the federal government’s lawsuit against the state’s mental health system.