By Phil West
Lieutenant governor's race draws prime interest so far
Mississippi State Treasurer Tate Reeves holds a nearly 2-to-1 lead in campaign contributions over state Sen. Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, in the race for Mississippi lieutenant governor, financial reports filed with the secretary of state show.
While the governor's race usually generates the most attention every four years, the Hewes-Reeves race for lieutenant governor likely will be the most closely watched statewide race in the Aug. 2 primary this year.
Reeves, a Republican who is completing his second four-year term as state treasurer, reported raising $724,126 between Jan. 1 and April 30, leaving him with $2,100,473 cash on hand, according to campaign finance reports filed Tuesday with Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
"I'm proud to say that we've now received contributions from all 82 counties in Mississippi, and our success is entirely due to the strong level of grass-roots support we enjoy across the state," Reeves said in a statement posted on his campaign website.
The general election is Nov. 8.
No Democrat has filed to run for lieutenant governor, whose chief duty is presiding over the 52-member, Republican-dominated state Senate.
Hewes reported raising $553,525 during the reporting period, leaving him with $1,169,744 cash on hand.
Hewes is a Gulfport insurance agent and broker who served 20 years in the state Senate, including the last four as speaker pro tem, the second-highest position in the Senate.
"With less than three months to go, we are on pace to win this race, as folks are responding to our message of strong family values, smaller and smarter government, conservative, business-minded experience, and proven leadership," Hewes said in a statement.
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant's fundraising easily outdistanced two other Republicans and two Democrats seeking the governor's seat being vacated by Haley Barbour, who has served two terms and cannot run again.
Bryant, who served 10 years as state auditor before he won the lieutenant governor's race in 2007, is considered the front-runner among all candidates in the governor's race.
Bryant, of Brandon, raised $559,065 between Jan. 1 and April 30, leaving him with more than $2 million cash on hand.
"This fundraising report shows the continued strong support for Phil Bryant's campaign of proven experience and ability to lead Mississippi," spokesman Quinton Dickerson said in a statement.
Fellow Republicans Dave Dennis of Pass Christian, a contractor and former Federal Reserve Board member, reported raising $455,968 with $708,868 cash on hand, and Ron Williams of Moss Point raised $58 but had no cash on hand as of April 30, the reports showed.
Among the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Clarksdale businessman Bill Luckett reported raising $561,477 and had $518,527 cash on hand.
"For a year and a half now, I've been all over Mississippi having conversations with people from every walk of life," Luckett said in a statement posted on his campaign website.
"We all want the same things -- good-paying jobs, great schools and honest, hard-working state government. Professional politicians won't get us there. I will."
Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, who earned a Ph.D. in urban higher education, reported contributions of $327,297 and cash on hand of $82,753.
Period covering Jan. 1-April 30
Candidate (Governor) / Contributions / Cash on hand /
Phil Bryant-R / $559,065 / $2,015,988 /
Dave Dennis-R / $455,968 / $708,868 /
Ron Williams-R / $58 / $0 (spent $223,901) /
Bill Luckett-D / $561,477 / $518,527 /
Johnny DuPree-D / $327,297 / $82,753 /
Candidate (Lt. Governor) / Contributions / Cash on hand /
Tate Reeves-R / $724,126 / $2,100,473 /
Billy Hewes-R / $553,525 / $1,169,744 /