PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - The gubernatorial race is heating up in counties across Mississippi. WDAM takes a look at the possibility of a runoff election for governor following the primary.
Voters will go to the polls Aug. 6 for the primary election. Two front runners on the Republican ticket are Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and former Chief Justice Bill Waller. Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law, Matt Steffey, said Mississippians may see a runoff.
“Getting to a runoff I think would be a great accomplishment for Justice Waller,” Steffey said. “I think for Justice Waller getting into a runoff and going head to head with Tate Reeves is a promising development.”
Steffey said Reeves has a lot of name recognition and advertising dollars while Waller's family name resonates with many residents. He said you can't forget about the number of elections Waller has won, although they have been in judicial districts.
“I think there is a lot of separation between the top two candidates, Reeves and Waller, but it doesn’t take much, even 10%, could mean the difference between an outright victory for a candidate in the runoff,” said Steffey. “So, I wouldn’t at all be surprised on the Republican side a runoff three weeks from the upcoming election day.”
Much of the same elements hold true for the Democratic side in the gubernatorial race, according to Steffey. He said two top contenders are Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith. Smith has won many elections in Hinds County and is an experienced politician taking on the seasoned candidate, Hood.
"Jim Hood has been the presumptive nominee," said Steffey. "He has won statewide elections rather handsomely and as a Democrat. So, he has a lot of electoral support across the state."
On the Republican ticket, if a runoff is necessary it would be the first Republican runoff in a governor's race in our state since 1991.
"Elections have a way of surprising you so, we will see," said Steffey.
The runoff would be held Aug. 27.