Gov. Bryant proclaims GOP candidates loving, hugging, endorsing each other after key Republicans waver on supporting Tate Reeves


Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For AmericaGOP event at Mama Hamil’s restaurant in Madison.
MADISON — After several news articles last week highlighted questions about unity among Republican Party statewide candidates, GOP leaders knew the party needed a jolt.
Former Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., the losing candidate in the Republican runoff for governor, said last Tuesday he would not endorse Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the party’s nominee. Later, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, did not give a straight answer to reporters about whether he’d endorse Reeves. 
Gov. Phil Bryant, who has discussed the serious threat Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood poses in the November governor’s race and how the election could affect his own legacy, called Mississippi GOP Chairman Lucien Smith last week, and the two planned an event.
The Republican Party sent the invitation to the public on Friday afternoon and billed the event as a “victory kickoff” at a popular buffet restaurant in Madison.
But as Bryant, Smith and all eight statewide candidates spoke before enthusiastic attendees on Monday, it seemed the event was less a general election kickoff for the Republican slate — most of whom face little serious challenge or no challenge at all from Democrats in November — than an attempt to rally Republicans for Reeves.
“We’re here to say we love one another. It’s good to be a Republican,” Bryant said to the crowd of about 150. “We wanted to get everyone here together so you can see your Republican team and know that we are all endorsing, we’re all supporting, we’re all hugging, we’re all giving money to each other to get us a victory and across the finish line in November.”
Democrats have enjoyed little influence over state government the past eight years, boasting just the one statewide office of attorney