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Presley Leads Reeves For Governor Amid Mississippi Welfare Scandal, Poll Shows

A large majority of Mississippi voters are familiar with the state’s welfare fraud scandal, and a slim majority is leaning toward voting for Democrat Brandon Presley for governor over incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in the November 2023 election, a new poll says.

Tulchin Research surveyed 500 likely voters on behalf of the SPLC Action Fund and an affiliated political action committee, New Southern Majority IE PAC, between Jan. 21-25. The survey contacted residents using landline phone calls, cell phone calls, emails and text messages.

Among the sample, 92% said they had heard about the welfare-fraud scandal involving top-ranking state officials and sports celebrities, with 55% saying they had heard “a lot” about it. When asked about their preference for governor, Presley led Reeves 47%-43%, with 10% saying they were “undecided.” Presley currently serves as the public service commissioner for Mississippi’s northern district.

“This polling makes clear the upcoming election cycle will be very competitive in Mississippi,” New Southern Majority IE PAC Director of Political Campaigns Brandon Jones said in a press release Monday. “We will be following this race and others across our Deep South states very closely and looking for opportunities to let voters know which candidates are looking out for the public’s interest.” Jones is a former Democratic member of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.38%, meaning the candidates could be statistically tied or the Democrat could lead by as much as 8 points. In 2019, Reeves defeated Democrat Jim Hood, who was the attorney general at the time, by a 52%-47% margin. Mississippi has not elected a Democratic governor since Ronnie Musgrove won in 1999.

Fired Attorney Accuses Reeves of ‘Cover-Up’

Tate Reeves was lieutenant governor between 2016 and 2019, when then-Mississippi Department of Human Services Director John Davis and others diverted more than $77 million in TANF funds away from the poor and toward well-connected individuals and their causes, including sports celebrities like Brett Favre.

Investigators have not accused Reeves or Favre of wrongdoing; Davis pleaded guilty in 2022. After news of the scandal broke shortly

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