The Mississippi governor’s race is surprisingly close, given how deeply red the state is. A key reason, at least according to the Democratic challenger Brandon Presley, is Medicaid.
Gov. Tate Reeves, the Republican incumbent, has opposed any Medicaid expansion in his state, one of the poorest in the country.
But 72 percent of likely voters in the state favor Medicaid expansion, according to a Mississippi Today/Siena College poll, and 92 percent are concerned about hospital access — which Mr. Pressley has also made central to his campaign. One of 10 states that continue to reject federal funding to expand health insurance for the poor, Mississippi is amid a hospital crisis.
The first third of his remarks on Friday at a soul food restaurant in Jackson, Miss., focused on Medicaid and hospitals.
“Somebody told me the other day, they said, ‘Brandon, my daddy said we can’t vote for you because you’re a Democrat,’” Mr. Presley said. “I said, ‘Well I hope your daddy don’t need a hospital in the next four years. Because if you leave this man in there for four more years, no telling where our hospitals will be.’ Now I’m running on several things, but first of all is to expand Medicaid.”
Though recent polling has showed Mr. Presley trailing Mr. Reeves, the deficits have often been in the single digits, and Mr. Reeves has some of the lowest approval ratings of any governor in the country.
And Mr. Presley, a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, does have a unique kind of name recognition: He is a second cousin of Elvis Presley.