JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) has won his second term as Mississippi’s governor on Tuesday, November 7.

The unofficial results showed that the incumbent governor defeated Democrat Brandon Presley in the General Election. Presley conceded to Reeves Tuesday night.

“Mississippi has momentum, and this is Mississippi’s time,” Reeves told cheering supporters at a party in the Jackson suburb of Flowood, reflecting the main theme of his campaign.

The mood at Presley’s party in Jackson, the capital city, was somber as he said hours after the polls closed: “Tonight’s a setback, but we’re not going to lose hope. … This campaign elevated issues that had to be elevated in Mississippi.”

The race was unusually competitive for this GOP stronghold. But Reeves prevailed with a message focused on job creation, low unemployment and improvements in education. He also cast Presley as a liberal backed by out-of-state donors who were out of step with Mississippi.

“For you to believe Brandon Presley in anything that he says, you’ve got to believe that everything in Mississippi is bad,” Reeves said last week during the candidates’ only debate.

Presley, a state utility regulator and second cousin of Elvis Presley, said Reeves had hurt the state by refusing to expand Medicaid to cover people working lower-wage jobs that do not provide health insurance. Presley pledged to clean up government corruption, pointing to welfare money that was spent on pet projects for the wealthy and well-connected rather than aid for some of the poorest people in one of the poorest states in the nation.

“He’s not going to open his mouth about ethics reform,” Presley said of Reeves. “He is the poster child of this broken, corrupt system.”

Reeves has steadily worked his way up the political ladder since winning the race for state treasurer in 2003. He serviced two terms as treasurer and two terms as lieutenant governor before winning the governor’s race in 2019.

Republicans have held the Mississippi governorship for the past 20 years. They hold all statewide offices and a wide majority in the Legislature. The last time a Democrat won the presidential vote in Mississippi was 1976, when Georgia’s Jimmy Carter was on the ballot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.