It’s been a long, long time since Mississippi elected a Democratic governor. The last time it happened, when Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) won election in 1999, Bill Clinton was president, Toy Story 2 was No. 1 at the box office, and Santana’s “Smooth” was on everyone’s radio.
The last time a Democrat scored more than 50% of the vote was in 1987, when Ray Mabus (D) beat out Mississippi Board of Education chairman Jack Reed (R). Back then, Fatal Attraction was the most-watched movie, and Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” topped the Billboard Hot 100.
(Oh no, now it’s stuck in our head)
Democrats this year are excited about Brandon Presley, a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission (and Elvis’s second cousin) who is challenging Gov. Tate Reeves (R). An early poll showed Reeves running just 4 points ahead of Presley.
But a newer poll suggests this isn’t going to be the year’s marquee race. The Siena College poll conducted for Mississippi Today finds Reeves leading 49%-38%. Reeves’s favorable rating isn’t great — just 42% see him in a positive light — but 53% approve of the job he’s doing as governor.
There were a few funky polls that caused a stir ahead of last year’s midterm elections — surveys that showed Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in closer-than-expected fights for re-election, and a poll in Oklahoma that showed Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) struggling. All three won easily.
Presley isn’t a nobody, but he also doesn’t have the same profile as Reeves’s last opponent, former Attorney General Jim Hood (D), who lost by 5 points. We’ll keep an eye out for the next survey, but at the moment, gubernatorial contests in Kentucky and Louisiana are taking more of our attention.
Here are seven things state legislators did this week that you might have missed:
ABORTION: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed one of the strictest abortion bans in the nation into law. The bill allows exceptions for rape, incest or medical emergency such as an ectopic pregnancy — but only through the first six weeks. (Fargo Forum)
The South Carolina Senate and the Nebraska legislature each rejected bills to ban abortions after six weeks. (Associated Press, Nebraska Public Media)
GUN POLITICS: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed legislation banning assault-style weapons, requiring a 10-day waiting period for purchasing firearms and allowing lawsuits against the firearm industry. (Pluribus News) The Minnesota House approved bills expanding background checks and red flag laws. (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)
MARIJUANA: Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) allowed a measure legalizing recreational pot to become law without his signature. (Pluribus News) Minnesota is on the glide path to legalizing pot once differences between House and Senate versions are ironed out. (MPR News)
SOCIAL MEDIA: The Texas House has given initial approval to a bill requiring social media platforms to get parental consent before a minor creates an account. (Texas Tribune) A bipartisan group of Minnesota legislators have introduced a bill requiring parental consent for children over 13 to have a social media account. The bill would ban children under 13 from having accounts. (MPR News)
ESG: Indiana, Montana and Kansas lawmakers gave final approval to bills banning state pension funds from investing with firms that consider environmental, social and governance factors in investment strategies. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) allowed her state’s bill to become law without a signature. (Pluribus News)
Florida is set to ban ESG investing, too, once Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) gets around to signing a bill the state Senate approved last week.
CRIME: The Indiana legislature approved a bill criminalizing non-consensual tracking. Planting a tracking device without consent would become a Class A misdemeanor, or a Level 6 felony in some circumstances. (Indiana Capital Chronicle) Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a bill making it a felony to recruit a minor into a gang. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
POLITICS: California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) said she would run to replace term-limited Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in 2026. She had the Democratic field to herself — for about three hours. Then former state Treasurer Betty Yee (D) jumped into the race. (Los Angeles Times, California Globe)
The Florida legislature has included a provision allowing DeSantis to run for president without resigning in a new election overhaul bill. It’s not clear they must legally exempt him from resign-to-run laws, but the legislature previously gave Govs. Charlie Crist (then a Republican) and Rick Scott (R) passes to run for U.S. Senate seats. (Orlando Sentinel)