One Sunday morning just weeks before announcing his run for governor, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood looked at the backs of the heads of the congregants who sat in the pews ahead of him at Houston First Baptist Church. Many of them, the self-described "backrow Baptist" noted, belonged either to the parents of old friends who had long since left the state or to friends whose children had left in search of a brighter future elsewhere.
Hood recalled the dismal observation as he stood on the Chickasaw County Courthouse steps in his hometown of Houston, Miss., on Wednesday morning. There, Mississippi's only statewide-elected Democrat officially launched his gubernatorial campaign.
"I come humbly before you today and announce our campaign for governor of the state of Mississippi," Hood told a crowd of supporters. "It's time to put our families first here in Mississippi and to build an economy where our children will stay."
To set the stage for his campaign's vision, Hood evoked the biblical lessons of his Southern Baptist upbringing.
"Jesus taught us to fight for the poor and the elderly and the widows and the children—the least among us," he said. "This is the Mississippi I will fight for—hard-working folks who love family, care for each other and want to build a better life."
A Progressive Economic Agenda
Hood, known for his conservative positions on criminal justice, then sought to make the case that Mississippi's "petty partisanship is getting us nowhere," and laid out a progressive policy agenda on taxes, health care, education and infrastructure.
"First, we've got to stop giving away our money—giving away tax cuts to corporations out of state that don't need it," Hood said, promising to roll back the $278 million in annual corporate franchise tax cuts that mostly benefit out-of-state corporations. "We need to invest in our main street businesses and