By Chris Kieffer
Tate Reeves said his experience outside of the Legislature best positions him to become Mississippi's next lieutenant governor.
During a Daily Journal editorial board meeting on Wednesday, Reeves - the two-term state treasurer - criticized the Legislature for spending too much and touted himself as an independent voice.
"If you are looking for a legislator with 20 years of experience, I'm not your candidate," Reeves said, referring to his opponent, Senate President Pro Tem Billy Hewes.
"If you are looking for an independent voice, an outsider and someone who not only wants to preside over the Senate, but to be a leader of the state, then I'm your candidate."
Reeves will meet Hewes in the Aug. 2 Republican primary. No Democrat is running.
Reeves, who earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Millsaps College, had been working for a financial institution before running for state treasurer in 2003 and winning re-election in 2007.
His decision to seek the post of lieutenant governor was fueled, he said, by an interest in public policy and an awareness of the position's importance.
With Gov. Haley Barbour's exit next year,"I'm convinced you will see legislative government take a role similar to the role played by legislative bodies for many years in which that was the most dominant branch in our state," Reeves said. "I'm convinced it will be the one statewide elected position that will have the greatest impact on public policy."
Reeves touted his record as treasurer of "standing up to those who want to spend more, borrow more and tax more."
Hewes disputes that in claiming that as a member of the three-person state Bond Commission - along with the governor and attorney general - Reeves approved most of the bond requests that came before him. Reeves refuted that claim, saying that many of the bonds he opposed were killed by the commission before they came up for a vote.
Although he has been critical of past legislative spending habits, Reeves said he feels confident that he would not have a problem working with the Senate as that body's presiding officer.
He cited the amount of support, financial and otherwise, his campaign has received from legislators, especially senators.
"I have working relationships with every member of the Senate who is returning," he said.
Reeves said that while he does not support raising taxes, he does believe that the state will be able to provide more funding to its schools as a result of an anticipate growth in tax collections as Mississippi emerges from the recession.
He said that extra funding should be accompanied by increased accountability.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.