Mississippi House Rep. Robert Foster greets me on the floor of the chamber where he is a freshman legislator. Along with his campaign manager, Colton Robinson, he shows me to a room off to the side of the chamber.
"Freshmen don't get offices," says the young lawmaker, whom voters first elected to the statehouse in 2015.
Back home in DeSoto County, where he runs Cedar Hill Farm, an agritourism business, Foster is known for his nice-guy image. On his campaign materials, he touts himself as a "Man of Faith," a "Conservative Outsider" and a "Farmer." But online, he has earned a reputation for inflammatory tweets and ultra-conservative stances. Now, he is running for governor in the Republican primary, running against current Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican from Florence, Miss., among others.
It was early morning on Jan. 30, 2018, when we sat down to go beyond the tweets and discuss his ideas on the issues that could make or break his attempt at a shock primary victory against Reeves.
Give me a general idea of why you decided to run.
I decided to run because I have a passion for trying to help our state, and I see a vision of how we can fix all our problems. I did not want to take the typical one step up the political ladder over a 16-, 20-year period because I didn't want to lose the passion I have now.
I do believe that no matter how strong your convictions are, how passionate you are, if you get into the political system that long, it will grind you down. It will change you and drain you of a lot of that passion because it's a very grueling process.
How has your family-farm business influenced your ideas for the state?
So with my business, it's all specialty crops.