Democratic leader Tom Perez: ‘We’re going to keep fighting in Mississippi because I know we can win’


Gage Skidmore, FlickrTom Perez, chair of the National Democratic Committee
ATLANTA — After two years of Democratic defeats in Mississippi, Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, said the national party will “redouble” its Mississippi investment in the 2020 cycle.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Jim Hood — broadly considered the Democratic Party’s best shot at the Mississippi governorship since 2003 — lost by five and a half points to Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Hood’s loss came a year after an eight point loss by former Democratic congressman Mike Espy to Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in a 2018 special U.S. Senate election.
“We’re in for the long haul in Mississippi,” Perez told Mississippi Today following the Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta on Wednesday night. “We invested at the DNC last year in Mississippi for Mike Espy. We didn’t make it to the mountaintop, so what did we do? We redoubled our investment this year. We didn’t quite make it to the mountaintop with Jim Hood. You know what we’re going to do next year? We’re going to keep investing because I think what we have to do is think long term. We have to make sure that every single year, we’re investing, we’re building relationships, we’re getting that much closer to the mountaintop.”
Mississippi, where the electorate is highly polarized along racial lines, has the highest percentage of African Americans of any state in the nation. Black voters make up about 70 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, Democratic operatives say, and the party’s top candidates in Mississippi often target that base of support.
Historically, national Democrats have eschewed investing in the party’s statewide candidates who often face better-financed Republicans in a state where white conservatives make a large portion of the electorate.
Hood received criticism in the days following his loss for not focusing