HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV/AP) — Mississippi’s Republican lieutenant governor and Democratic attorney general debated teacher pay raise plans, road building, health care and much more as they clashed for the first time in the governor’s race.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Attorney General Jim Hood met Thursday at the University of Southern Mississippi in a debate sponsored by Jackson television station WJTV.
Hood argued Reeves had his chance to make improvements during his eight years as lieutenant governor and that voters shouldn’t let him stay in office. Reeves said he’s pushing feasible plans and Hood wants to raise taxes.
“What we’re doing is not working. His leadership has failed,” Hood said at one point of Reeves.
“I’m not going to make promises that I can’t keep and I’m not going to spend money we don’t have,” Reeves said.
The two traded charges over an aborted plan to build a road to Reeves’ Flowood subdivision. Hood says evidence shows Reeves pushed the road, while Reeves says Hood abused his office to investigate his political opponent.
The candidates differed when it came to background checks on guns. Reeves said background checks shouldn’t be required on all gun purchases. Hood disagreed saying it’s necessary in the process.
On the issue of retailers deciding not to sell automatic weapons, Reeves said that’s a bad decision and customers can choose where to shop. Hood said they’re decisions by private companies and businesses have the right to make those decisions.
The candidates also drew a line in the sand on minimum wage. Reeves said he felt it was time to raise it in Mississippi. Hood said that was a federal issue.
When discussing Medicaid expansion, Hood said it’s critical for the health of the state and attacked Reeves for not accepting federal money. Reeves responded by saying Hood isn’t concerned with the issues — he’s only concerned with attacking Reeves. The Lt. Gov. went on to say he’s against “Obamacare” expansion and said the state can’t afford it.
Hood responded by saying Reeves doesn’t have a healthcare plan to keep rural hospitals open.
When asked what each candidate respects about each other, Reeves said he appreciates Hood chose a life of public service while raising children. Hood got plenty of laughs from the audience after saying he respects Reeves’ ability to fundraise.
At one point, the moderators asked each candidate a specific question. When Hood was asked if he’d endorse Democrat Jennifer Riley for Attorney General, he declined to do so.
Reeves was questioned about not being endorsed by Republican opponent Bill Waller and losing his home county in the primary. Reeves danced around the question saying he’s working to earn every vote he can.
The two meet in the general election on November 5.
Here’s what the candidates had to say about their debate performance and opponent: