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Mississippi governor says he wants young people to stop leaving the state

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has been inaugurated for his second term

Emily Wagster Pettus
Tuesday 09 January 2024 18:36 GMT
Mississippi Inauguration Governor
Mississippi Inauguration Governor (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves used the theme “Mississippi Forever” on Tuesday as he was inaugurated for his second term, saying he wants to curb the trend of young people leaving to pursue careers in other places.

“For too many decades, Mississippi’s most valuable export has not been our cotton or even our culture. It’s been our kids," Reeves told lawmakers, state officials and several international diplomats during a ceremony outside the state Capitol on a chilly, blustery day.

He said people from Mississippi hold prominent positions in government, business and entertainment.

“They made other places better, and we missed out on all they could have done here at home," he said.

Reeves, 49, campaigned last year by focusing on tax cuts, job creation, low unemployment and improvements in education. He also cast his Democratic opponent as a liberal backed by out-of-state donors who were out of step with Mississippi.

Reeves held two other statewide elected offices before becoming governor four years ago. He served two terms as treasurer and two as lieutenant governor.

The state lifted its ban on gubernatorial succession in the 1980s, and Reeves is the fourth Mississippi governor to win two consecutive terms. Republicans have held the Mississippi governorship the past 20 years.

The November general election was unusually competitive in a state where Republicans control all statewide offices and both chambers of the Legislature.

Reeves received nearly 51% of the vote to defeat Democrat Brandon Presley, who received nearly 48%, and independent Gwendolyn Gray, who received just over 1%.

Presley, a state utility regulator and second cousin of Elvis Presley, said Reeves had hurt the state by refusing to expand Medicaid to cover people working lower-wage jobs that do not provide health insurance. Presley pledged to clean up corruption, pointing to welfare money that was spent on pet projects for the wealthy and well-connected rather than aid for some of the poorest people in one of the poorest states in the nation.

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