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The Reeves-Presley 2023 campaign was the most expensive governor’s race in state history

The bitter 2023 election between Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and Democratic challenger Brandon Presley was the most expensive governor’s race in Mississippi’s history, according to campaign finance reports filed last week.

Documents filed with the Secretary of State’s Office show that Reeves spent $12.7 million last year, and Presley spent $13.1 million, totaling around $25.8 million spent between the two candidates. Excluding outside political action committees, the 2024 race shattered spending records in prior gubernatorial campaigns.

The most expensive governor’s race before the 2023 election was the 2003 race between Republican Haley Barbour and Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, when Barbour pumped $11.3 million into the race and Musgrove spent $7.7 million — collectively $19 million spent. 

The candidate who spends more money on a campaign typically has a higher likelihood of prevailing at the ballot box, such as the case with Barbour in 2003. Presley, however, spent more money than Reeves, and the Democrat still lost with just 47.7% of the vote. 

The campaign cycle left Reeves with $23,000 in his main campaign account and Presley with $172,000. But Reeves still has around $1.9 million in a “legacy” account, which he can spend however he sees fit or even pocket the funds. Reeves’ legacy account, which was created before state campaign finance law changed in 2017 to implement tighter spending requirements, has steadily accrued interest earnings since 2018.


The latest reports also show Secretary of State Michael Watson, Attorney General Lynn Fitch and State Auditor Shad White — all of whom are rumored to be eyeing a run for governor in 2027 — with a substantial amount of campaign funds on hand. 

Here’s how much money Mississippi’s other seven statewide officials have on hand as of last week: 

  • Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann: $211,000 
  • Secretary of State Michael Watson: $1.09 million 
  • Attorney General Lynn Lynn Fitch: $1.8 million 
  • State Auditor Shad White: $1.95 million 
  • State Treasurer David McRae: $121,000
  • Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson: $217,000
  • Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney: $248,000 

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