Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves of Rankin County in suburban Jackson and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood of Houston in Northeast Mississippi will be the lead candidates for their respective parties for the open gubernatorial seat.
There could be – most likely will be – a good bit of a shuffling of the deck for the other seven statewide posts. Perhaps Treasurer Lynn Fitch could run for another office – perhaps attorney general or even lieutenant governor or governor.
But the conventional wisdom is that Hood, in his fourth term as attorney general, and Reeves, in his second term as lieutenant governor after two as treasurer, will be the leading candidates for governor.
The one person most likely of turning that conventional wisdom on its head – of rewriting the script – is Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Conventional wisdom is that the Republican Hosemann, a third term secretary of state from metro Jackson, will run for lieutenant governor.
While making no official announcement, it is no secret that Hosemann wants to be in more of a policy-making position and as lieutenant governor he would be.
My unconventional wisdom is that as 2019 creeps closer Hosemann might opt to challenge Reeves in the Republican gubernatorial primary instead of running for lieutenant governor.
The governor has the ability not only to influence policy, but also to make key appointments that will have an impact throughout state government.
I do not base my unconventional wisdom (the word wisdom might be overstated here) on any insightful conversations with Hosemann or anyone close to him. I just think there are several factors that might lead Hosemann to consider a race for the state’s highest office.
The first – trying to be diplomatic here – might be Hosemann’s age. The attorney got into public life at a later age than most other statewide elected officials and is 70 years old. An avid runner, Hosemann might be in better shape than any of the other statewide elected officials.
But assuming Reeves wins in 2019, and he will be the favorite, it is most likely that Hosemann would have to wait eight years to run for governor in 2027. Does he want to run for governor at age 80?
If Hosemann ever plans to run for governor, 2019 is his year to do so.
Another factor is that as secretary of state, Hosemann has made a few enemies, particularly as it relates to his stewardship of public lands, but not nearly as many as someone engaged in the legislative process as Reeves has been as lieutenant governor.
Reeves has taken great pride in impacting the legislative process and incorporating his views into the bills that have passed and that have not passed.
That is why Reeves ran for lieutenant governor – to have an impact on the laws and the policies of the state. That is why Hosemann is contemplating a run for lieutenant governor.
It is a powerful position. The flip side is that by having such as impact on public policy Reeves has made enemies. It is just the nature of the beast.
Obviously political enemies can be a detriment when running for office,
For those reasons and others, I will not be surprised if Hosemann tries to change the script.
After all, as stated already, the office of governor is a powerful position and is an enticing prize for a politician. Most agree former Republican Gov. Haley Barbour redefined that position during his eight-year tenure to make it more powerful.
And even before then, the gubernatorial office was not as weak as many political scientist types tried to claim it was. In the early 1980s, William Winter definitely had an impact as governor as did Ronnie Musgrove during his one term.
Musgrove called a special session to rewrite the state’s economic inventive laws – laws that he used to attract Nissan to the state in what most likely is the most impactful economic development effort for the state in the modern era.
Hosemann, like Reeves and Hood, believe they could be have similar impact as governor.
And besides the office of governor comes with cool public housing.
BOBBY HARRISON is the Daily Journal’s Capitol correspondent. Readers can contact him at (601) 946-9931.
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