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Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (left) speaks to Bobby Holloway of the DeSoto County Republican Club before the club’s meeting in Southaven Tuesday evening. Reeves is campaigning for the party’s nomination of governor, along with former state Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. and Hernando state Rep. Robert Foster.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has taken his campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination back to DeSoto County, speaking this week to party faithful in Southaven. 

While the candidates, Reeves, former state Chief Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. and Hernando state Rep. Robert Foster are all making separate appearances before county Republicans, they all will be appearing together at least one time before the Aug. 6 primary election.

That will be when WJTV-TV in Jackson will host a debate between the trio the station plans to televise live on July 23, just a few short weeks before the August primary vote.

“I look forward to talking about the issues,” Reeves said about the July 23 debate. “I expect that we’ll have a spirited conversation about the direction that our state needs to move ahead. I’m a strong conservative who believes that conservative fiscal policy works. I believe that lower taxes and a conservative public policy works.”

Most polls are reflecting Reeves as the frontrunner with a little more than a month remaining in the primary campaign. The latest poll, commissioned for the political coverage website Y’All Politics, gave Reeves a 50.33-19.48 percent advantage over Waller, with Foster attracting 8.82 percent of those who responded. There is still more than a quarter of those polled (27.65 percent) who either don’t know or are unsure about who they would be supporting.

The Y’All Politics poll also listed results of a hypothetical matchup between Reeves and Democratic frontrunner and current Attorney General Jim Hood. It would give Reeves a 48-36 percent advantage in the possible November matchup. The result would still give the race to a Republican in Waller, if he were pitted against Hood, at 43-36 percent.

Impact Management Group did the polling for Y’All Politics.

During the recent stop in Southaven, Reeves also opened a campaign office in the city and said DeSoto County was extremely important to his run for governor.

“We’ve been fortunate to win DeSoto County every time I’ve run (for office), and we’re going to work very hard to earn the support of every single vote in the county, and that’s the reason I am here,” Reeves said.

Reeves also touched on the teacher pay raise issue in his Southaven stop and defended the $1,500 pay raise passed and signed during the 2019 legislative session. He said teacher salaries have improved over the time he’s been lieutenant governor.

“We’ll never pay them what they’re worth, the work that they do is invaluable,” Reeves said. “If you were teaching when I ran for lieutenant governor eight years ago, you’ll make over $8,000 more next year than you made the year that I ran for lieutenant governor. If you’re operating in an ‘A’ or ‘B’ school, it’s likely you’re going to make over $10,000 more per year. We have more work to do, but we’ve taken a good first step.”

Waller’s campaign states students, parents and teachers deserve more focus than they’re getting now and noted that the state currently has the lowest teacher salary in America. Waller wants paychecks to improve to the Southeastern average as quickly as possible.

Foster’s campaign has also stated the state needs to better support the education profession with competitive salaries.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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