GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The race for the Republican nominee for Governor of Mississippi got a little bit tighter Tuesday with what could be a key endorsement.
State Representative Robert Foster officially put his support behind former State Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. in a series of appearances across the state.
Foster finished third in the general election with almost 18 percent of the vote, making his endorsement a potential game changer two weeks before voters go back to the polls.
On Monday, Waller’s opponent Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Foster’s endorsement “will not have much of an impact”. Reeves said that “conservatives” who supported Foster “are coming to our campaign”.
The current Governor, Gov. Phil Bryant, has endorsed Reeves.
Waller said he and Foster agree on ways to fix education, fix the healthcare system and change the state’s tax structure.
“You need to start asking the candidates, ‘how do you plan to fix the problems rather than just bashing the other candidates that are actually willing to talk about it’,” said Foster at a joint appearance with Waller at the Great Southern Club in Gulfport Tuesday.
“We have to have some new leadership in Jackson,” Foster said. Foster also said Waller offers “common sense business solutions to some of our biggest problems".
“I think it’s a choice that couldn’t be more clear,” Reeves said during his appearance at Fayard’s Po-Boy in Ocean Springs. “Do you want a candidate in Tate Reeves that will take the fight to the liberals in the November general election against Jim Hood, or do you want a candidate leading the Republican Party that agrees with Jim Hood on virtually every major issue?”
"I think the people are interested in the issues, not rhetoric," said Waller.
Both Reeves and Waller, with Foster’s support, claimed they have the support of more than half the electorate. Both say they can beat democratic candidate Jim Hood in the general election.
Both candidates have declared their alliance with President Donald Trump.
One of the biggest differences in their plans seems to be Waller’s desire to expand Medicaid with a plan modeled after Vice President Mike Pence’s and raise gasoline taxes, in what he calls the Ronald Reagan plan. Waller wants to eliminate the four percent income tax in a swap for gasoline taxes to pay for roads and bridges. Reeves opposes both plans.
The winner of the Aug. 27 runoff will face Attorney General Jim Hood in the November 5 general election.