- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi’s first-term Republican governor and lieutenant governor are collecting truckloads more campaign cash than their Democratic challengers, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed Friday.

In the most fiercely contested statewide race, third-term Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood is outraising Republican Mike Hurst.

Hood, who has concentrated on cybersecurity and on prosecuting crimes against children, collected $1.5 million from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, and reported $497,961 cash on hand.

Hurst is a former federal prosecutor who helped build a public corruption case against an ex-commissioner of Mississippi’s prison system. He has raised $827,170 and had $380,189 on hand.

The cash-on-hand totals for some candidates include money raised before this year. Candidates will file one more round of finance reports on Oct. 27, one week before the Nov. 3 general election.

Gov. Phil Bryant collected $1.2 million Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 and had $1.9 million on hand, including money raised before this year.

The Democratic nominee for governor, truck driver Robert Gray, is making his first run for office and has barely collected enough cash to run a race for a small-town city council seat. He has raised $3,263 and had $1,826 on hand.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has raised nearly $1.7 million this year, and was sitting on $3.5 million at the end of September.

His Democratic challenger, former state Sen. Tim Johnson, has raised $209,303 and had $2,766 on hand.

Johnson, who switched from Republican to Democrat to challenge Reeves, said he’s running a David-versus-Goliath race.

“I kind of like the way that story ended,” Johnson said in a phone interview Friday evening.

Johnson also said potential donors have told him they’re afraid to give him campaign money because they don’t want to anger Reeves.

“It does show that the lobbyists own this state, that they own the lieutenant governor’s office,” Johnson said.

In an interview earlier Friday, Reeves said he has been fair to all sides in his job as the presiding officer of the state Senate. He pointed out that he appointed Republicans and Democrats as committee chairmen.

“Although I’ve been pretty busy, I haven’t seen a large number of senators out beating the door for my opponent,” Reeves said. “Most every reform that we’ve passed in the last four years, and there have been many, most have been passed with bipartisan support.”


Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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