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1 of 9 Dems leaves Mississippi governor’s race, backs Hood

One of the nine Democrats running for Mississippi governor is withdrawing from the race and throwing his support to the candidate who has raised the most money in that primary.

Phillip West is a former state representative, former mayor of Natchez and former Adams County supervisor. He issued a statement Thursday saying he is supporting fourth-term Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood for governor.

Hood has raised more campaign cash than any of the Democrats running, but less than Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who is one of three people seeking the GOP nomination.

West said he wants Mississippi to have good health care, high-performing schools and safe roads.

“After visiting with Jim Hood during the course of this campaign, I am satisfied that Jim shares my values,” West said. “The stakes are too high and the opportunity too great for friends to bicker at this important moment.”

Hood, who is white, will need to receive significant support from African American voters, and West might be able to give him a boost. West is a former vice president of the Mississippi NAACP and is politically connected in southwestern Mississippi counties with high percentages of African American residents.

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith and retired Jackson State University administrator Velesha P. Williams, who are both African American, are among the other Democratic candidates for governor. They both live in the metro Jackson area, which has large numbers of voters and will be important in deciding the Democratic primary.

Hood lives in the northeastern Mississippi town of Houston.

Party primaries are in August and the general election is in November.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant could not seek a third term.

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