OPINION: Is Tate Reeves running scared?

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As many political observers know, each election season there are public opinion polls designed to let candidates know their chances of getting elected. There are polls that are published in order to influence the voting public, and there are polls that are designed to reflect the outcomes that their sponsors desire of them. Despite those realities, public opinion polls cannot and should not be relied upon to predict outcomes. 

Governor Tate Reeves, however, seems to be reading the polls and frightening himself in the process. 

For the last several months there have been published polls showing Tate Reeves ahead of his Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley. Yet, the numbers are too close for him to feel comfortable and they show him behind with certain groups. Consequently, he has been running as if he is afraid that he may lose the election.

That may well be the case given the fact that Presley, who is a distant relative of Elvis Presley and reflects his northeast Mississippi roots in much of his speech and mannerisms, has been endorsed by such groups as the Mississippi Association of Educators; the Communication Workers of America, and its affiliate; the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees; the Southern Poverty Law Center; and an array of current and former Republican political officials.

In addition to the endorsements, Reeves is on edge because Presley’s team has adroitly developed positions to deal with several significant issues involving Tate Reeves – his refusal to support Medicaid expansion, which threatens the closure of many hospitals and deprives many citizens of necessary healthcare; his participation in the misuse of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds slated for needy citizens and/or the covering up of that misuse; and his lack of support for the elimination tax on groceries and other items that fall heavily on working class people.

The Reeves team has found no adequate response to the Medicaid accusation. Reeves did rush out a communique stating that he has requested new standards for the expenditure of Medicaid funds. There is no assurance that the request will be granted. Furthermore, the request appears to be a purely political move to take the heat off him. If he was that sincere about wanting to help the needy, he could have already supported Medicaid expansion or made his request much earlier.

On the other hand, the response of the Reeves campaign to the misuse of TANF funds has been to say that the charge is false and that the spending crime took place before Reeves was governor. That response ignores the other fraudulent misuses of funds, such as the horse ranch and northeast Mississippi river waterways projects that fell through. That response does not answer the charge that Reeves did fire the law firm that was leading the investigation into the TANF scandal. The response ignores that he was heading the senate throughout the entire episode. The inability to address the charge apparently shows how scared Reeves must be of the truth being fully exposed. Many Mississippians can apparently understand this. 

Thirdly, Reeves’ fear is reflected in the fallacies and untruths witnessed in several ads, among them are ads that attack Presley and his campaign. There is the claim that Presley has supported sex change operations for youths, that Reeves led the charge in improving Mississippi school improvements, and that the Republican supporters in Presley’s ads are not Republicans. 

When the charge was made that Presley supports sex-change operations for minors, the Reeves campaigners blurred the ad so that one cannot actually hear what Presley initially said and they did not present the matter in context. They simply said that he is not now being truthful. 

In the case of school improvements, it should be clear to all who understand school operations and fundings, that Reeves had absolutely no role to play. The truth is that the improved scores reported refer to advances from what had been scored by the state the previous year, not an overall jump from being 49th to being 21st as a state in education. Even further, those who know and/or understand the process, know that the teacher pay raise, as small as it is, was the work of the teachers themselves and their lobbyists and supporters, not Tate Reeves. Reeves and his cohorts have had more than 20 years to fully fund the schools and to raise the teachers’ pay, but even today they will only talk about raising teachers’ pay to the southeastern average, not the national average. In the entire arena of education, the Reeves team presents half-truths and boasts of things with which they had no role because Reeves records is so poor. They also seem to believe that at least some people will not research their claims and accept them as true. 

Finally, the suggestion that the quartet of Republicans supporting Presley in his ads are not Republicans just represents desperation since many people know that they are Republicans, one and all. In the case of Mike Parker, many people can even remember when he switched from the Democratic Party. One of his top Black assistants was placed in an awkward position because he had been a lifelong Democrat and most of his family and friends were Democrats, but had to ride with Parker. Parker has remained a Republican from that day to this. 

Similarly, Reeves team try to take the position that a person becomes a Democrat because he serves in the cabinet of a Democratic executive. This is simply not true. People have frequently served across party lines, sometimes out of a spirit of bipartisanship, sometimes simply to promote effective government, but they did not thereby become members of the other party. The attempted denials by the Reeves team that the men are Republicans is just another example of its willingness to do or say anything to win votes, no matter how misleading or dishonest.

Yes, despite the polls which one may have seen, the Tate Reeves campaign is running scared. This is underscored by its overly heavy reliance on slander, catch phrases, code words, and labels. It is through the hateful use of “lying liberals,” “radical leftists,” “communists,” and the like, that they seek to further divide the electorate based upon hatred rather than letting the truth shine through. They prefer to have people swayed by emotional appeals rather than allowing them to think clearly and critically evaluate the two candidates. 

Cowards, losers, and crooks are usually the ones who do not want the truth fully known, especially when they are running scared.

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OPINION: Is Tate Reeves running scared?

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
October 9, 2023