Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to run for governor

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FILE - In this Thursday, July 19, 2018, file photo, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, left, speaks at a news conference in Jackson, Miss. Fourth-term Attorney General Hood said in a statement Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, that he will announce his candidacy for governor Wednesday, Oct. 3 in his hometown of Houston, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. — The only Democrat holding statewide office in Mississippi says he will run for governor in 2019, setting up what could be the hardest-fought race for the state’s top office since 2003.

Fourth-term Attorney General Jim Hood said in a statement Monday that he will announce his candidacy Wednesday in his hometown of Houston, Mississippi.

He changed his Twitter handle to @HoodForGovernor and has a campaign phone line that’s answered as “Jim Hood for governor.”

Hood has said for months that he’s considering running for governor but he was waiting for his wife, Debbie, to pray and make peace with the idea.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is limited to two terms and cannot run again in 2019.

Republicans have held the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion six of the past seven terms. The lone Democrat during that period, Ronnie Musgrove, was knocked out of office in 2003 by Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman who made a career as a high-profile Washington lobbyist. No governor’s race in Mississippi has been as competitive since then.

Two-term Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is also expected to run for governor in 2019. The latest campaign finance records filed in January showed Reeves had nearly $5.4 million in cash on hand at the end of 2017, compared to Hood’s $656,400.

Hood initially planned to make six appearances around the state Wednesday and Thursday to announce his candidacy, but those plans changed because two police officers in Brookhaven, Mississippi, were killed while responding to a domestic disturbance early Saturday.

“Out of respect for the Brookhaven police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty last weekend, I will suspend my planned statewide announcements until further notice,” Hood said in the statement Monday. “I will make a single announcement in my hometown of Houston on Wednesday at 9 a.m. on the steps of the Chickasaw County Courthouse so that I can attend the funerals of these brave officers on Wednesday and Thursday. Please keep the families of Patrolman James White and Corporal Zach Moak and all of the Brookhaven Police Department in your thoughts and prayers.”

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