Mississippi Republicans make final pitches as runoff for governor nears

MS Republican governor runoff happening Tuesday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With Tuesday’s runoff nearing, the two men vying to become the Republican nominee for Mississippi governor are spending the final days crisscrossing the state.

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves took time to thank volunteers in Hattiesburg.

“It's really about get-out-the-vote efforts today,” said Reeves. “We're waiving signs here in the Hattiesburg area and we also have tons of volunteers going door-to-door and we have folks doing phone banks throughout the state of Mississippi."

Meanwhile, Reeves’ opponent, former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr., spent some of his time fighting back against charges from the Reeves campaign, that his ideas on the gas tax are too liberal.

“We’ve got to have a highway program and I want to use the same program that Ronald Reagan has promoted using user fees, and so I’m conservative,” said Waller. “We want to redirect taxes; we’re not raising taxes; we want to redirect taxes, so it’ll be a tax swap.”

WMC Political Analyst Mike Nelson says it’s hard to predict whose message will win.

"Tate Reeves has been more on the attack against Bill Waller since the runoff campaign began. Waller has been running a much more positive campaign,” said Nelson. “Both of them are saying ‘I'm the true conservative.’ What we'll see is if voters want something that is more upbeat or if they accept Tate Reeves' charge that Bill Waller is not a true conservative.”

The winner will face the Democratic nominee for governor, Jim Hood, the current attorney general, in November.

Nelson says voter turnout in runoffs is usually lower, which means it could come down to enthusiasm.

“Waller is a known commodity in Mississippi politics,” said Nelson. “Tate Reeves being a familiar face, having been around as long as he's been, cuts both ways. Some people are ready to move on. Some people, because they recognize him and like him, will vote for him.”

In addition to governor, Republicans have a runoff for attorney general and northern district transportation commissioner.

Both parties have runoffs for legislative seats and county offices across Mississippi.

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Voters must show a driver's license or other government-issued photo identification in order to cast a ballot.

Voters who participated in one party’s primary on Aug. 6 cannot vote in the other party’s runoff.

Voters who did not vote on Aug. 6 may vote in either party’s runoff.

To see sample ballots for each runoff, click here.

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