MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - DeSoto County state Rep. Robert Foster finished third in the Republican primary for governor last week but performed better than polls predicted. Now he hopes to influence his party’s runoff.
Foster found himself back in the spotlight Tuesday as he announced his endorsement of former rival Bill Waller. Waller will face Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in a runoff Aug. 27.
"This was a decision that I prayed about quite a bit," Foster said.
He says it came down to what he thinks the state needs: Change.
"A lot of people wanted me to sit this out and not get involved in a runoff, because getting involved in a runoff election can sometime have political consequences and you may upset people on one side or the other," said Foster.
He says the choice is now up to his supporters.
"I would encourage them to not look at the negative media going out there from our opponent and all of the soundbites that they continue to push millions of dollars in," said Foster. "Look at the bigger picture and the details behind all of the policy."
Waller and his wife traveled to Hernando to be with Foster as he made the endorsement.
"We've got slightly different approaches but the same ideas," said Waller. "We also believe we need to the state needs to go in a different direction. We need to have a more robust economic outlook for the citizens."
One of the issues Foster and Waller found agreement on is expanding Medicaid to insure more Mississippians.
"What we're attempting to do is to make the best out of a situation," Foster said. "Obamacare is a perfect example. None of us as Republicans love the idea of the federal government being involved in our healthcare system, but the reality of the situation is that the federal government is involved in our healthcare and we have have to work within those rules and guidelines they give us in order to try to make ourselves find a better place, until they give us some other policies to work with."
Another issue they agree on is increasing the state’s gas tax through a tax swap in order to fix crumbling roads and bridges.
WMC Action News 5 asked Reeves’ campaign what they thought of Foster’s endorsement of Waller. They said a post from Sen. Chris McDaniel said it best.
The post reads: “It’s impossible to drain the swamp by endorsing Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and a gas tax increase. To the contrary, such policies empower bureaucrats and politicians by allowing them to steal more of our hard earned money. Policy still matters, doesn’t it?”
Reeves finished with 49 percent of the vote Aug. 6, just shy of the 50 percent plus one ballot needed to win the nomination.
Waller finished with 33 percent and Foster with 18 percent.
WMC political analyst Mike Nelson says Foster’s endorsement could mean a close contest.
“Well, I think it shows that Foster thinks Waller has a chance to win. Otherwise, why would he get out there on a limb like this?” said Nelson.
Foster made national headlines in July after telling a female reporter she could ride with him in his truck on the campaign trail if she brought a male colleague.
Foster said at this point he doesn't know if he will run for office again.
"I don't know what that race would be or what position," Foster said. "There's nothing that comes to mind right now. I'm going to focus on finishing this race with Justice Waller and then we are going to go back to work in my business and then we'll see what comes up."
The winner the Waller-Reeves runoff will face the Democratic nominee for governor, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, in November.