Tate Reeves, staring down runoff, ditches early campaign strategy and attacks Bill Waller’s policy positions

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Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For AmericaTate Reeves celebrates with his supporters during his election watch party at Table 100 in Flowood, Tuesday, August 6, 2019.
Sixty-four of Mississippi’s most politically connected individuals making up Tate Reeves’ finance committee received an email on March 13, two weeks after three Republicans and nine Democrats qualified to run for governor.
The fundraising email, sent by Brad Todd, a Washington-based political consultant who has run all five of Reeves’ statewide campaigns, sought to energize the top financial supporters by giving them a glimpse of the campaign’s 2019 strategy. Todd, in the email titled “The Field Is Set,” worked to convince the committee that Democratic front-runner Jim Hood could face a “costly runoff” after a crowded primary and that Reeves had little to worry about in his own primary.
But by the night of the Aug. 6 primary, it wasn’t Hood, as Todd suggested in March, who faced a runoff — it was Reeves, Todd’s client and heir apparent to the Governor’s Mansion.
Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For AmericaBill Waller, a former state supreme court chief justice, speaks to media after participating in the gubernatorial debate at WJTV studios in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
Reeves, with Todd navigating from Washington, implemented a campaign strategy that political insiders have questioned this week after the front-runner fell just one percentage point shy of avoiding a runoff with Bill Waller Jr., the former chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.
The heart of that strategy, which Todd detailed near the end of the email: “It is our plan to raise $5 million more — that’s what it will take to beat the Washington liberals who hate President Trump and love the local liberal, Jim Hood.”
“The most important news from qualifying is the fact that Attorney General Jim Hood drew EIGHT