Yesterday’s election results were clearly not what Republican leaders were hoping for, but the day wasn’t a total loss for the party: as the Clarion Ledger reported, the GOP candidate prevailed in Mississippi’s gubernatorial election.
Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves won the race for Mississippi governor Tuesday night, defeating Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.
Republicans were on track Tuesday to control all statewide elected offices in Mississippi and are expected to maintain super-majority control of the Legislature. It will be the first time since Reconstruction that Republicans control all statewide elected offices in Mississippi.
With just about all of the votes counted, it looks like Reeves won 52.2% to 46.5%. That’s hardly a razor-thin margin, though given the fact that Donald Trump – who campaigned in Mississippi late last week – won the state by 17 points, yesterday’s outcome was fairly close.
Indeed, in the last few election cycles, the Republican candidate in Mississippi’s gubernatorial race has dominated, winning by 18 points (in 2007), 22 points (in 2011), and 34 points (in 2015). This year’s contest was the closest Mississippi has seen in two decades.
Even if state Attorney General Jim Hood (D) had won the most votes, he almost certainly would’ve lost anyway: Mississippi operates under an unusual system, created in the Jim Crow era to undermine the electoral strength of the state’s African-American community, in which Hood also would’ve had to have won a majority of the state’s 122 legislative districts. If not, the election would go to state lawmakers, where Republicans have an overpowering majority.
For the most part, the state can expect the political status quo to continue for a while – Reeves is replacing a two-term Republican governor – though that’s not good news for many of the state’s low-income families lacking health insurance. Vox noted overnight that Mississippi is one of the 14 states that has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and yesterday’s outcome suggests that will not change anytime soon:
“I am opposed to Obamacare expansion in Mississippi. I am opposed to Obamacare expansion in Mississippi. I am opposed to Obamacare expansion in Mississippi,” he said during a January luncheon. In June, Reeves told the Clarion Ledger, “I don’t believe the expansion is nearly as good a financial deal as some would make it out to be.”
He has summed up his position on Medicaid and similar programs as “Mississippians believe the way to a better future is not through handouts or bailouts but through hard work and more freedom.”
This stance means the roughly 100,000 currently uninsured Mississippians who would receive Medicaid under an expansion will not get it, nor will the additional 200,000 insured residents estimated to have received some benefit through an expansion.
NBC News had a related report on this earlier this week, noting just how severe the consequences of Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion has been for many Mississippi residents.