Reeves reports biggest Miss. campaign cash balance

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi Treasurer Tate Reeves has the biggest campaign fund of any current statewide elected official, but he said he hasn’t decided what office he’ll seek in 2011.

Finance records filed Friday in the secretary of state’s office show that Reeves, a Republican, ended 2009 with nearly $1.2 million campaign cash on hand.

Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, who’s expected to run for governor, reported $619,092 cash on hand.

“I will admit I’m receiving a lot of encouragement to run for governor, to run for other offices,” Reeves said in a telephone interview Friday night.

He said he’ll sit down with his family in about the next six months to decide what to do next year. Some Republicans are also mentioning Reeves as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor.

“My first job, my boss taught me the best way for you to keep your current job or to get a promotion is one and the same — and that’s to do your current job well,” said Reeves, who’s in his second term as treasurer.

Bryant was at a speaking engagement Friday night and could not immediately be reached after business hours. Candidates had a 5 p.m. deadline to file finance reports showing how much their campaigns had raised and spent and their cash on hand through Dec. 31.

Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat seen by many as a possible gubernatorial candidate, reported $90,539 cash on hand.

Two businessmen who’ve established political action committees to run for governor also filed finance reports.

Republican Dave Dennis of Pass Christian reported $321,212 cash on hand. Dennis is a contractor and served on the Federal Reserve Board in New Orleans from 2001 through 2007.

Democrat Bill Luckett, a Clarksdale attorney, reported $281,812 cash on hand. Luckett’s campaign received $250,000 from actor Morgan Freeman, his business partner in Ground Zero blues club and the upscale Madidi restaurant in Clarksdale.

“I have been sitting down and listening to Mississippians for over a year, and they are quick to share with me their thoughts and their hopes for Mississippi,” Luckett said in a news release Friday. “Just as importantly, they share with me their deep concerns about the way things are going in our state.”

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who can’t run again in 2011, reported $77,081 cash on hand in his political action committee, called Haley’s PAC.

Barbour reported donations to Democratic candidates who ran for mayor in two Mississippi cities in 2009. The PAC gave $15,000 to state Sen. John Horhn, who ran unsuccessfully in Jackson; and $1,000 to Clarksdale Mayor Henry Espy, who was re-elected. The governor’s PAC also gave to Republican mayoral candidates in 2009, including $1,000 each to Cheri Barry of Meridian, Jack Reed Jr. of Tupelo, and George Schloegel of Gulfport, who won races in their cities.

Other cash-on-hand totals reported by campaigns:

— Senate President Pro Tempore Billy Hewes, a Republican who has publicly said he’s running for lieutenant governor, $670,230. “The broad base of folks from across Mississippi stepping forward to support my candidacy for lieutenant governor is proof that Mississippians want to keep experienced conservative leadership in place at their Capitol,” Hewes said in a news release Friday.

— Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican who has not announced his 2011 intentions, $315,822.

— State Auditor Stacey Pickering, a Republican has said he’s considering a run for lieutenant governor, $62,186.

— Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican who has said he’s seeking re-election, $54,907.

— Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell, a Republican who has not announced his 2011 intentions, $1,289.