Gov. Tate Reeves speaks to media during the 2023 Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, July 27, 2023. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

Welcome to The Homestretch, a daily blog featuring the most comprehensive coverage of the 2023 Mississippi governor’s race. This page, curated by the Mississippi Today politics team, will feature the biggest storylines of the 2023 governor’s race at 7 a.m. every day between now and the Nov. 7 election.

He’s been to Shuqualak, Macon, Columbus, Brookhaven, Picayune, Tchula, Yazoo City — Tate’s been everywhere, man.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, not generally known as much of a retail politicker, has been burning up the campaign trail the last few weeks. He appears to have shown up anywhere there’s fried fish or a festival. It’s been hard to keep a grand opening ribbon intact with him about.

On social media on Tuesday, Reeves posted: “After 8 consecutive days traveling — to and from every region of this great state — I count waking up with my family this morning a blessing!! Looking forward to visiting with folks all over Metro Jackson today!”

So what has the incumbent governor more known for fundraising than glad-handing popping in at barbecue joints, hardware stores, the Caledonia Days Festival and the Kountry Kitchen in Columbus? It would appear he’s heeding some recent polls and reports saying his race against Democratic challenger Brandon Presley is tightening or neck-and-neck.

The Reeves campaign is kicking into high gear on the meeting and greeting, and he’s putting in an uncharacteristic amount of shoe leather as Nov. 7 nears. Other than his initial run for state treasurer in 2003, and his first run for lieutenant governor in 2011, it’s hard to remember Reeves putting in this much face time with rank-and-file voters.

This would also appear to be a response to Presley’s nonstop criss-crossing of the state for the last 10 months. Last week, Presley announced he had fulfilled a promise he made to voters in May — he’s visited all 82 counties in Mississippi. Starting way behind the curve in campaign funding for ads, retail politicking has been Presley’s focus, and he’s made listening to folks in oft-forgotten rural corners of the state a plank of his platform.

Even in the day and age of social media and multi-million dollar television ad campaigns, when push comes to shove down the homestretch, contenders for Mississippi’s top office are still getting out and kissing hands and shaking babies.

Headlines From The Trail

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Inside the Democratic Party’s coordinated effort to turn out Black voters for the Nov. 7 election

Brandon Presley supports efforts to raise Mississippi’s minimum wage

How does a Democrat win in Mississippi? Brandon Presley thinks he’s found the formula.

Governor Tate Reeves visits Picayune, emphasizes voter engagement and local support

Brandon Presley, Democratic governor candidate, makes stop in Meridian

Brandon Presley makes stop in Laurel on campaign trail

Governor’s race poll shows Brandon Presley trailing Gov. Tate Reeves by one percentage point

Morgan Freeman is under attack

What We’re Watching

1) The annual Mississippi Economic Council Hobnob is Thursday at the Mississippi Coliseum. Business leaders from across the state will hear speeches from candidates for statewide offices, including Reeves and Presley.

2) The annual Good Ole Boys and Gals gathering in Oxford will also be Thursday. A Mississippi political tradition for about 30 years, this gathering at a shed in the woods allows people to eat barbecue, then grill Mississippi political candidates one-on-one. Four years ago, when Reeves was running for a first term in office, Donald Trump Jr. attended the event. Might there be another high-profile guest this year?

3) The first — and only — Mississippi gubernatorial debate between Reeves and Presley is just one week away. Although Presley had accepted invites from five groups or news outlets to debate, Reeves agreed to only one. The “Commitment 2023: Mississippi Gubernatorial Debate” will be a partnership between WAPT-TV in the metro Jackson market and Mississippi Public Broadcasting. The hour-long debate will be broadcast live by the outlet on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. from WAPT’s studio, and it also will be broadcast live on MPB’s radio and television stations statewide and on the MPB app.

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.