GOP's Reeves, Bryant hold most campaign cash

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant still has the most campaign cash in the Mississippi governor’s race, just as he did when candidates filed their first finance reports earlier this year.

But the statewide candidate with the most money to spend at this point is state Treasurer Tate Reeves of Flowood, a Republican running for lieutenant governor.

Candidates had a Tuesday evening deadline to report how much they raised and spent the first four months of this year.

Reeves reported $2.1 million cash on hand as of April 30. His Republican primary opponent, Sen. Billy Hewes of Gulfport, had nearly $1.2 million.

In the governor’s race, Bryant, of Brandon, reported just over $2 million on hand, and fellow Republican Dave Dennis of Pass Christian had $708,868. Another Republican running for governor, Ron Williams of Moss Point, filed a report showing no cash on hand as of April 30.

In the Democratic primary for governor, Bill Luckett of Clarksdale held $518,527 and Mayor Johnny DuPree of Hattiesburg had $82,753.

No Democrat is running for lieutenant governor.

Party primaries are Aug. 2, and the general election is Nov. 8.

Reeves’ first campaign for elected office was in 2003, when he was working as a certified financial analyst and won the open race for treasurer.

“I’m proud to say that we’ve now received contributions from all 82 counties in Mississippi, and our success is entirely due to the strong level of grass-roots support we enjoy across the state,” Reeves said in a statement Tuesday.

Hewes is an insurance agent and real estate broker. He has been in the Senate nearly 20 years and was chosen by his colleagues for this four-year term as president pro tempore, second only to the lieutenant governor in the 52-member chamber.

“We are finding that, as a result of my life experiences, people want a lieutenant governor who they can relate to, who can effectively lead in the Senate, and who will conduct himself in a manner Mississippians can be proud of, as I have always done,” Hewes said in a statement Tuesday.

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour is limited to two terms and could not run again this year.

Bryant was state auditor 10 years before winning the open race for lieutenant governor in 2007.

“This fundraising report shows the continued strong support for Phil Bryant’s campaign of proven experience and ability to lead Mississippi,” Bryant campaign spokesman Quinton Dickerson said Tuesday.

Dennis is a contractor and has served on the Federal Reserve Board.

“Mississippians are tired of politics as usual,” Dennis said. “They want a proven job creator with private sector leadership to cut spending, fight tax increases, improve our schools and reform our government.”

Luckett, an attorney and businessman in Clarksdale, said he has spent the past year and a half traveling the state and meeting people.

“We all want the same things — good paying jobs, great schools, and honest, hardworking state government,” Luckett said. “Professional politicians won’t get us there. I will.”

DuPree spokesman Sam Hall said in an interview that the campaign is pleased with its fundraising and with the reception DuPree is receiving.

“We may not be the richest candidate in the race, but we will be the most organized,” Hall said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press