Lt. Gov Tate Reeves will be the GOP nominee for governor in Mississippi after winning a Republican primary runoff on Tuesday.
Reeves defeated former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller in the runoff, 54 percent to 46 percent, according to The Associated Press, with nearly all precincts reporting.
Reeves will now face Democratic state Attorney General Jim Hood in the Nov. 5 general election.
Both Reeves and Hood were the front-runners in their respective primaries. But while Hood was able to easily clinch his party’s nomination earlier this month, Reeves got about 49 percent of the vote in his primary, slightly short of the majority he needed to win the Republican nomination outright.
Reeves has spent over $3 million in the primary and runoff combined, with $985,000 of that in the runoff, while Waller spent about that much over all and just $288,000 during the runoff.
Reeves has run as the reliable conservative in the Republican contest, opposing Medicaid expansion and picking up endorsements from term-limited Gov. Phil Bryant, a set of mayors and the National Rifle Association.
Waller had hoped to run an insurgent campaign that would piece together a coalition beyond just the traditional conservative voters. He supported expanding Medicaid as well as increasing gas taxes to fund new infrastructure projects.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, called Reeves "a principled, policy-driven conservative leader," in a statement issued after the AP called the race.
“The RGA congratulates Tate on his win tonight, and we’re with him all the way to victory in November,” Ricketts added.
Noam Lee, the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, pointed to the close GOP race. “Reeves was supposed to skate through the primary, but instead he is barely limping out of this runoff," said Lee.
"We look forward to making this Reeves’ toughest race of his career and electing Jim Hood the next governor of Mississippi," Lee added.
Hood, who is seeking to become the first Democrat to win a governor's race in Mississippi since 1999, has styled himself as a conservative Democrat in the race. He opposes abortion and has touted his time as attorney general on fairly bipartisan issues like combating domestic violence. He’s eschewed embracing the more liberal positions of some national Democratic politicians.
Hood's campaign relaunched a television ad Tuesday to kick off the general election. The spot features Hood outlining his plans on education, health care and reducing the sales tax on groceries.
But for Hood, his path to the governor’s mansion is far from certain. Mississippi law requires that candidates win both the majority of the state’s 122 state House districts, as well as the popular vote, to become governor. If a candidate fails to win majorities of both measures, the GOP-controlled state legislature would pick the next governor.
Mississippi is one of three states with gubernatorial elections this fall, along with Kentucky and Louisiana.