JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — President Donald Trump is traveling to Mississippi on Friday to try to shore up Republican support ahead of the state's toughest governor's race in nearly a generation, with two established politicians competing for the open seat.
Four years ago, Mississippi's Democratic nominee governor was a little-known trucker who did not vote for himself in the primary and went on to lose the general election by more than 34 percentage points. Republicans have held the Mississippi governorship for 24 of the past 28 years.
This year, though, Democrats in this conservative Deep South state think they have a much better shot in Tuesday's election with Jim Hood as their nominee. Hood, 57, is serving his fourth term as attorney general and has been elected by wide margins in his previous races. He's currently the only Democrat to hold statewide office.
Trump will hold an evening rally in the northern Mississippi city of Tupelo to support Hood's opponent, Republican Tate Reeves. Reeves, 45, is finishing his second term as lieutenant governor after previously serving two terms as the elected state treasurer.
In the race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, Reeves has spent $10.8 million, and Hood has spent $5.2 million. Both are receiving financial support from national governors' groups in their parties.
Vice President Mike Pence is set to appear on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Monday.
The events with Trump and Pence will be the largest campaign rallies for either gubernatorial candidate. Reeves and Hood have both focused on speaking to small groups at fish fries, local festivals and volunteer fire departments.
Reeves has sought to tie Hood as closely as possible to national Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who are deeply unpopular in a state that voted heavily for Trump in the last presidential election.
Reeves says under Republican control