JACKSON, Miss (WJTV) – If Republican voters were undecided on who to select at the ballot box during next week’s runoff, Wednesday night’s debate should have helped make that decision.
Tate Reeves and Bill Waller went in different directions on a number of issues showing clear differentiation between the candidates. You can watch the full debate in the video player above.
Right off the top of the event, the GOP candidates sparred over Medicaid expansion. Reeves said he was entirely against it, while Waller argued he wanted to take a conservative approach to the funding in the style of neighboring Arkansas.
During that initial question, Reeves noted Waller was pro-Medicaid expansion saying Democratic candidate Jim Hood is also a supporter of healthcare expansion. That trend continue into the second question on infrastructure improvements. Waller noted a gas tax could help improve roads and Reeves responded saying he’s the only candidate against raising the gas tax — again putting Waller in the same box as Hood.
“I don’t think he’s comparing me to a Democrat,” Waller said after Byron Brown posed the question on whether Reeves was trying to paint the former Supreme Court Justice as liberal.
Waller followed up saying his plan for Mississippi is a “true conservative plan.” In talking about conservatism, Waller labeled Donald Trump a true conservative. Moments after that, Reeves said President Trump recently called on leaders to avoid Medicaid expansion.
When it comes to the economy, Reeves noted raising taxes isn’t the right solution to improving the state’s financial situation The Lt. Governor said he planned to build on current economic successes in the years to come. Waller didn’t quite see it that way saying we have “work to do” moving forward.
What could the candidates agree on? Both want to improve wait times at the DMV and say current issues and staffing problems aren’t acceptable. They both want to ensure teachers make more money in the years to come.
Closing out the debate, Reeves said he feels Waller is a good man, but he can’t agree with many of his policies. Waller ended by saying he’s bringing conservative solutions to the table and said he’s the best conservative leader in the race.