By NEMS Daily Journal
While the Aug. 2 party primaries will begin the winnowing process in the Mississippi governor’s race, the fall will bring a competitive campaign between the Republican and Democratic nominees.
Not so in the lieutenant governor’s election, where the Republican primary is for all the marbles. Whether it’s state Sen. Billy Hewes of Gulfport or state Treasurer Tate Reeves of Jackson, the winner will easily coast to victory in November with only nominal opposition from a Reform Party candidate. There’s no Democrat in the race.
The office is open because the incumbent, Phil Bryant, is running for governor.
The lieutenant governor’s office is a hybrid, combining executive and legislative functions, but the essential power of the office comes from its role as presiding officer of the state Senate. That gives the occupant – through the rules of the Senate – the authority to appoint committees and their chairs, decide which committees consider legislation and in other ways control the flow of legislation.
Hewes, 49, is playing the experience card in the race, touting his 20 years in the Senate and his four years as president pro-tem. He says that gives him the knowledge and skills to get things done, and he’s already announced his picks for four top committee chairmanships and his successor as president pro-tem.
Reeves, 37, who in his two terms as treasurer has had periodic scraps with the Legislature, contends a legislative outsider can better help rein in what he says has been excessive spending and bonded indebtedness incurred by lawmakers.
Both men started their political careers in their late 20s, Hewes by toppling a veteran senator on the Coast in 1991 and Reeves by becoming the youngest statewide elected official ever when he won the treasurer’s job in 2003.
Learn more about the candidates today from the Daily Journal’s Bobby Harrison in their profiles on Page 7A.