HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Mississippi’s Republican lieutenant governor and Democratic attorney general debated teacher pay raise plans, road building and health care as they clashed for the first time in the governor’s race.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Attorney General Jim Hood met Thursday at the University of Southern Mississippi in a debate sponsored by Jackson television station WJTV. A second debate is scheduled before the Nov. 5 general election.
Hood argued Reeves had his chance to make improvements during his eight years as lieutenant governor and that voters shouldn’t let him stay in office, saying Mississippi’s economic growth is lagging and people are leaving the state.
“What we’re doing is not working. His leadership has failed,” Hood said at one point of Reeves.
Reeves said Hood would raise taxes to fund an overly pricey agenda and hurt the state because of his ties to plaintiff’s lawyers.
“I’m not going to make promises that I can’t keep and I’m not going to spend money we don’t have,” Reeves said.
Hood painted a picture of Reeves as someone who has been giving tax breaks to the rich while not doing enough for working people, while Reeves says Hood’s ties to plaintiffs’ lawyers and national Democrats would hurt Mississippi.
The two traded charges over an aborted plan to build a road to Reeves’ Flowood subdivision. Hood said emails show Reeves pushed a road that would have benefited him.
“The fact is, the emails were there, the evidence is there,” Hood said. “He went after a state agency to build a road from his gated subdivision.”
Reeves said Hood misused public resources conducting an improper political investigation.
“The attorney general abused his office investigating his political opponent and everybody knows it,” Reeves said.
Both candidates have also agreed to a second debate four days later on October 14 in Columbus.
State law prohibits the current governor, Republican Phil Bryant, from seeking a third term.
The general election is Nov. 5.