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Brandon Presley. (Photo: Brandon Presley Campaign).

With Murphy at helm, Democrats look for a rare Mississippi win

Democratic gubernatorial candidate is Elvis Presley’s cousin and a new poll shows a close race

By David Wildstein, February 14 2023 9:14 am

Do Democrats have a shot at winning a race for Governor of Mississippi on Phil Murphy’s watch?

A new poll shows Democrat Brandon Presley leading Republican Gov. Tate Reeves by four percentage points, 47%-43%, putting the race within the margin of error.

Murphy is the new chairman of the Democratic Governors Association in a year when his party is the underdog in three red states holding governor’s races: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The Tulchin Research poll, commissioned by the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, puts Reeves’ favorables at an upside-down 42%-54%, with 55% of Mississippians viewing the state as being on the wrong track.  A welfare scandal is hurting Reeves’s popularitywelfare scandal. Federal antipoverty funds to the poor were cut by almost 90%, with dollars diverted to the wealthy, including football legend Brett Favre.

“I think Mississippi is the sleeper.  You’ve got a very unpopular governor who’s left a lot of the state behind, whether it’s water in Jackson or not expanding health or other services for folks who need it the most,” Murphy told the Washington Post last week. “We’ve got a really credible, popular, high-name-recognition candidate in Brandon Presley, who happens to be Elvis’s cousin.”

As DGA chairman, Murphy’s role is essentially a fundraising one.  But a senior administration source confirmed that First Lady Tammy Murphy, the governor’s fundraiser-in-chief, has been particularly interested in the Mississippi campaign.

Last month, a Mississippi Today/Siena College poll had Reeves up four points, 43%-39%, with a 48%-45% job approval.

Reeves was elected in 2019 by a 52%-47% margin.  Mississippi has not elected a Democratic governor since 1999.

Tulchin Research surveyed 500 likely general election voters between January 21-25 with a margin of error of +/- 4.38%.

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