By Emily Wagster Pettus
State Treasurer Tate Reeves will be in Meridian today to make it official: he will seek the office lieutenant governor.
Reeves will speak at a rally at Weidmann's at 1 p.m. to kick off his campaign in East Mississippi. Local supporters will join him for his announcement.
Reeves, speaking in Flowood on Monday, invoked the names of Gov. Haley Barbour and former President Ronald Reagan on Monday as he launched his own campaign.
""I started first grade in that building next door about the same time Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States,'' Reeves, 36, told students in the gymnasium at Florence Middle School.
""And since yesterday would've been Reagan's 100th birthday, I think I should sum up my reasons for being here today by using his words: 'While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans, I live for the future,''' Reeves said. ""And those beliefs are why I have decided to seek the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of the great state of Mississippi.''
Reeves, who now lives in Flowood, will face state Sen. Billy Hewes of Gulfport in the Republican primary for the second-highest elected office in state government. No Democrats have filed to run yet.
March 1 is candidates' qualifying deadline for statewide offices. Party primaries are Aug. 2, and the general election is Nov. 2.
The current lieutenant governor, Phil Bryant, is running for governor.
The lieutenant governor presides over the 52-member state Senate, appoints committee chairmen and serves on the 14-member Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
Hewes, 49, has been in the Senate since 1992. He's in his fourth year as president pro tempore, a position to which he was elected by his Senate peers. He's also on the Budget Committee.
In announcing his own candidacy for lieutenant governor on Jan. 4, Hewes said his work as a business owner and senator has prepared him to preside over the chamber that helps set public policy for education, public safety and other programs that affect people's lives.
""The job of lieutenant governor does not lend itself well to on-the-job training,'' Hewes said.
Reeves' first campaign for elected office was in 2003, when he was working as a certified financial analyst and entered the open race for treasurer. Reeves said Monday that he ran for treasurer because he saw other young people and their families moving outside Mississippi to pursue careers.
""Young people weren't leaving our state because they wanted to. They were leaving because they thought they had to,'' Reeves said. ""And there was one man who stood up and was willing to do something about it. His name was Haley Barbour, and he was going to put his own successful career on hold to run for governor. He was running on a platform to make Mississippi a good place to do business again, and I thought he might could use some help.''
Barbour, a Yazoo City native, was a high-profile Washington lobbyist when he returned to Mississippi and won the governorship in 2003.
Reeves said two terms as state treasurer have prepared him to become lieutenant governor. He said he has been a watchdog of Mississippi's money and has never become ""a creature of government.''
Hewes owns an insurance business and is a real estate broker. He said that during college he worked as a longshoreman.
""People want someone representing them who has walked in their shoes -- a real, live person, not a bureaucrat, not somebody who pushes paper, but somebody who has faced the same issues they face every day,'' Hewes said.
Candidates filed campaign finance reports last week showing how much they raised and spent during 2010.
Reeves raised $546,147, spent $91,491 and ended the year with $1.6 million cash on hand. Hewes raised $514,280, spent $168,252 and ended the year with $1 million.