‘It’s close’: Gov. Phil Bryant, a key endorsement for Tate Reeves, acknowledges Bill Waller’s appeal in GOP governor’s race

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Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For AmericaGov. Phil Bryant
With a knack for retail politicking and a deep understanding of Mississippi’s Republican electorate, Gov. Phil Bryant navigated to the pinnacle of Mississippi politics, beginning in 1991 as a member of the state House of Representatives and ending this year as a two-term governor.
Drawing on that political experience in a Thursday interview for Mississippi Today’s political podcast “The Other Side,” Bryant handicapped the Aug. 6 Republican primary for governor and the eventual general election in November — a race that will determine his successor in the Governor’s Mansion.
Bryant has publicly endorsed Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, long considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination, and said in the interview that Reeves “has the same ideas and philosophies that I do” and that Reeves “has the ability to lead us in the right direction.”
But Bryant also conceded that former chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court Bill Waller’s likability could boost chances of a runoff in the Republican primary. Bryant didn’t venture to forecast how a Reeves-Waller runoff would end.
Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For AmericaA fairgoer holds a “Thanks Phil!” sign during the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019.
“People like to vote for people who are likable,” Bryant said. “Bill Waller is a very likable guy. His dad was a good governor, a Democrat governor, so people like Bill Waller. His family are just wonderful people, a very old Mississippi family that many people know and like. I like them all. The judge and I just disagree on policy. It doesn’t mean we’re mad at each other, we just disagree on how to move Mississippi forward.”
Bryant continued: “It’s hard to predict, but it’s close. Tate was up 10 points in that Mason Dixon poll. I think this is the