HATTIESBURG, Miss — Republican nominee Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Democratic nominee State Attorney General Jim Hood took the stage Thursday evening for their first debate in the race for Mississippi Governor. It was held at the University of Southern Mississippi where WREG anchor Greg Hurst acted as moderator.
There was tension right off the bat when Hood was asked about his investigation into Reeves and accusations that the Lt. Governor pressured the State into spending taxpayer money on a frontage road that would connect his house to a nearby shopping mall.
"As governor, I want to make sure that we take care of our kids and build roads and bridges. I'm talking about public roads not private driveways," Hood said.
Reeves fired back at the Attorney General.
"This was an abuse of power by the Attorney General choosing to investigate his political opponent in the midst of campaigning," Reeves said.
Other debate topics included infrastructure, teacher pay and whether or not all gun sales should require a background check. Reeves said no.
"I am a big supporter of the 2nd amendment, and I do not believe that everyone should have a background check on every single fire arm that is purchased," Reeves said.
Hood strongly disagreed.
"This is a situation where criminals are going. They know they can get around the background checks, and fellas go buy guns, and we've got a duty to protect the public," Hood said.
There was a somewhat awkward ending to the debate. Both candidates were asked what they respect about each other. Reeves' answer was seemingly sincere.
"I respect the fact that he (Hood) has chosen a life of public service during a time where he was raising his kids," Reeves said.
But Hood used the question to deliver a jab.
"What I respect most about him is he sure knows how to raise a lot of campaign money," Hood said to audience laughter.
The two candidates will debate again Monday in Columbus. The election is Nov. 5.