|65th Governor of Mississippi|
|Assumed office |
January 14, 2020
|Preceded by||Phil Bryant|
|32nd Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi|
January 10, 2012 – January 14, 2020
|Preceded by||Phil Bryant|
|Succeeded by||Delbert Hosemann|
|53rd Treasurer of Mississippi|
January 13, 2004 – January 10, 2012
|Preceded by||Peyton Prospere|
|Succeeded by||Lynn Fitch|
Jonathon Tate Reeves
June 5, 1974
Florence, Mississippi, U.S.
|Education||Millsaps College (BA)|
Jonathon Tate Reeves (born June 5, 1974) is an American politician from Mississippi. A Republican, he has been governor of Mississippi since 2020. Reeves was previously state treasurer (2004–2012) and lieutenant governor (2012–2020).
Early life and education
A native of Rankin County, Mississippi, Reeves is the eldest son of Terry Reeves and Dianne Peeples. Reeves's father founded a heating and air conditioning company in 1975 that became a multi-million-dollar business.
Reeves graduated from Florence High School in Florence. He then graduated from Millsaps College in Jackson with a degree in economics. He played college basketball for two years before injuring his shoulder.
At Millsaps College, Reeves was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity known for racist activities, including using racial epithets and hosting Confederate-themed dances. He became embroiled in controversy in 2019, when yearbook photos surfaced showing fraternity members in blackface and Confederate uniforms, but it is unclear whether Reeves was involved.
After graduating from college in 1996, Reeves became a Chartered Financial Analyst. He worked at Park South Corporation, a subsidiary of the Deposit Guaranty National Bank, which eventually merged into AmSouth. In 2000, Reeves moved to Trustmark National Bank, where he was a financial portfolio manager until 2003, when he resigned to run for state treasurer.
Mississippi state treasurer (2004–2012)
Reeves sought the post of Mississippi state treasurer in the 2003 election; it was an open seat, as Democratic incumbent Marshall G. Bennett was retiring. In the 2003 Republican primary election, Reeves faced former Central District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Burkes of Brandon and State Representative Andrew Ketchings of Natchez. In the Republican primary election, Reeves led with 49% of the vote, with Burkes in second place. Because no candidate achieved a majority, Reeves and Burkes had a runoff election; Reeves defeated Burkes in the runoff, which had low turnout.
In the general election, Reeves defeated Democratic nominee Gary Anderson, the state director of finance and administration, 52% to 46%. Anderson has substantially more experience than Reeves, but Reeves's campaign raised and spent substantially more money. Observers also cited racial prejudice (Anderson is African American) as another factor that may have contributed to Anderson's loss. Reeves's father contributed $115,000 to his campaign, about one-fifth of its fundraising total.
Lieutenant governor of Mississippi (2012–2020)
In February 2011, Reeves entered the race for lieutenant governor. In the August Republican primary, he defeated Mississippi State Senate president pro tempore Billy Hewes of Gulfport, 123,389 votes to 162,857. In the November general election, he was elected lieutenant governor, succeeding Phil Bryant, who was elected to his first term as governor. Reeves ran without Democratic opposition; he received 80.35% of the vote; Reform Party candidate Tracella Lou O'Hara Hill received 19.65%.
As lieutenant governor, Reeves was president of the state Senate, and he used his position to prevent Medicaid expansion from receiving a floor vote, and to block an increase in the gas tax to fund repairs to roads and to Mississippi's many structurally deficient bridges.
Governor of Mississippi (2020–present)
Reeves ran for governor of Mississippi in the 2019 election. He was the favorite to win the nomination. He enjoyed substantial name recognition from his 16 years in statewide office, and had a significant fundraising advantage over his rivals for the Republican nomination, former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. and Robert Foster, a first-term member of the state House.
During the primary race, three former state Republican party chairs endorsed Waller (who was viewed as more pragmatist), while outgoing governor Phil Bryant, former governor Haley Barbour, and Chris McDaniel endorsed Reeves (who was viewed as more conservative). Reeves strongly opposed Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which he disparaged as the "Obamacare expansion." This position contrasted with that of Waller and Foster, who supported a version of Medicaid expansion to benefit Mississippi's rural hospitals, almost half of which were close to bankruptcy before the COVID-19 pandemic. Reeves also opposed increasing the gas tax to fund road and bridge repairs, while Waller supported it. Reeves said that "radical liberals" were attacking "Mississippi's culture and Mississippi's values."
In the Republican primary, Reeves and Waller finished in first and second place, respectively. Because no candidate won a majority of the total vote, Reeves and Waller proceeded to a runoff election. Reeves won the nomination in the runoff.
Reeves defeated the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Jim Hood, in the November general election. Republicans won all eight statewide offices in 2019, a first in Mississippi history. The election was Mississippi's first competitive election for governor since 2003. Reeves received 459,396 votes to Hood's 414,368. He took office on January 14, 2020.
In November 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Reeves said he would veto any bill that expanded mail-in voting or no-excuse early voting. Mississippi has among the most restrictive states in the U.S. for pre-Election Day voting.
Trump and Biden
Reeves is a staunch Donald Trump supporter. During his 2019 campaign for governor, Reeves touted the support of Trump, who carried the heavily Republican state in both 2016 and 2020. In his 2019 campaign for governor, Reeves promised, "If I'm elected governor, I will work for President Trump." Trump, his vice president Mike Pence, and his son Donald Trump Jr. all campaigned for Reeves in Mississippi in 2019. At a rally in Tupelo days before the November 2019 election, the elder Trump promoted Reeves' candidacy while assailing the impeachment inquiry against him over the Trump–Ukraine scandal.
In September 2020, after Trump refused to condemn white supremacy at a presidential debates, Reeves condemned white-nationalist groups, but refused to criticize Trump's refusal to do the same.
After Joe Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election, and Trump refused to concede, Reeves supported Trump-backed lawsuits to throw out the election results in several states won by Biden, where Trump and his allies made false claims of fraud. In March 2021, Reeves acknowledged that Biden is the president of the United States and was "duly elected" but repeatedly refused to acknowledge that Biden was "legitimately and lawfully elected" or that the 2020 election was free and fair.
Amid the acceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reeves undermined efforts to contain the spread of the virus. In early 2020, Reeves closed schools, declared a state of emergency, and told people to trust in the "power of prayer," but did little to combat COVID-19 transmission. In March 2020, Reeves issued an order deeming most public places to be "essential services." The order barred "'any limitation or restriction' on gun and ammo shops, car dealerships (mentioned three times), houses of worship and 'faith-based facilities,' restaurants and bars, real-estate offices and construction services, movie theatres, coffee shops, and Uber and Lyft." Reeves' order prompted substantial criticism, largely because it clashed with previously issued local orders and caused confusion as to whether the order overrode local leaders' decisions to order the closures of businesses and other public places. Leaders of many of Mississippi's largest cities and counties criticizes Reeves' declaration. The mayor of Tupelo said that Reeves had engaged in a "abdication of leadership." Days later, Reeves issued an amended order, clarifying that his previous order was not intended to interfere with local governments' decisions.
Reeves implemented a "stay-at-home" order on April 2020, but allowed some retail businesses to reopen shortly thereafter. In early May 2020, Mississippi had its largest spike of coronavirus deaths and cases up to that point. Mississippi again had a sharp uptake in COVID-19 cases and deaths in November 2020. In December 2020, although Reeves urged the public to avoid large gatherings to prevent the further spread of the virus, Reeves' office invited legislators and other officials to at least three holiday parties at the Governor's Mansion in Jackson.
Except for August 4 through September 30, 2020, Reeves did not issue a statewide mask mandate in the state, setting only county-by-county mandates in locations with rapid increases in infections. Of the state's 82 counties, 16 were under a mask mandate in November 2020, when the mandates expired. Effective April 30, 2021, Reeves ended COVID-19 restrictions (with the exception of the school mask mandate) through May 31, 2021. For the 2021–22 school year, Reeves did not reinstate the mask mandate. At a political rally in July 2021, Reeves called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention' recommendations on indoor face coverings "foolish" and "harmful."
When a COVID-19 vaccine was made widely available, Reeves opposed vaccine requirements. Mississippi had one of the lowest vaccination rates among U.S. states, a fact downplayed by Reeves. After President Joe Biden used his authority under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act to require federal workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and to require all employers with more than 100 workers to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive weekly testing, Reeves called the mandate "tyranny" and an "attack on hardworking Americans." Biden responded by calling Reeves' remark "the worst kind of politics"; the president referenced the 660,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. up to that point and noting that "in Mississippi, children are required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and more." Reeves joined a Republican-led lawsuit against the Biden plan.
In August 2021, Reeves argued that Mississippi Christians were "less scared" because "when you believe in eternal life—when you believe that living on this earth is but a blip on the screen, then you don't have to be so scared of things." That month, Mississippi had the nation's highest rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita.
During COVID-19, Mississippi suffered a shortage of hospital workers (in particular nurses). Reeves declined to call a special session of the legislature to allocate the state's $1.8 billion share of federal COVID-19 relief funds to address the crisis.
Race and Confederate iconography
In June 2020, amid the George Floyd protests, debate arose about whether to change the flag of Mississippi, which featured Confederate insignia in the top left. Reeves supported changing the flag by referendum, but said that if the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill to retire the flag without a referendum, he would sign it. On June 28, 2020, the legislature voted to change the flag, 91 to 23 in the House and 37 to 14 in the Senate. Reeves signed the legislation two days later, removing the last state flag to display the Confederate symbol.
Criminal justice and prisons
In 2020, Reeves vetoed two criminal justice bills that would have expanded parole eligibility for Mississippi prisoners; one of the bills would have allowed nonviolent offenders to be considered for parole after serving 25% of their sentence, while the second bill would allow those convicted of violent crimes to be eligible for parole consideration after completing 50% of their sentence or 20 years, whichever comes first. In 2021, Reeves signed into law a narrower bill that expanded parole eligibility. Reeves rejected calls to grant a pardon or commutation to Tameka Drummer, a Mississippi inmate serving a life without parole sentence for the possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana; Drummer was sentenced in 2008 under the state's habitual-offender law.
As governor, Reeves was faced with significant problems with the state's prison system, especially Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman—including widespread, deadly violence and unsanitary, dangerous conditions. After nine prisoners died in one month at Parchman, Reeves acknowledged that the conditions at Parchman were "terrible"; he ordered the closure of part of the notorious prison complex, as well as other reforms. Several hundred inmates were moved from Parchman's infamous "Unit 29" to the privately operated Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility.
In 2020, Mississippi voters approved (by 70%) a medical marijuana initiative; the initiative was subsequently invalidated by the state Supreme Court which ruled that it was improperly placed on the ballot. Reeves opposed the medical marijuana initiative, but said that he would honor "the will of the voters" who had overwhelmingly voted in favor of medical marijuana.
Reeves used his 2020 budget proposal to appeal to the conservative base. Echoing Trump, he proposed allocating $3 million to a "Patriotic Education Fund" and claimed that "across the country, young children have suffered from indoctrination in far-left socialist teachings." Reeves' budget proposal recommended bonuses for schoolteachers in high-performing or improving schools, but largely ignored Reeves' 2019 campaign pledge to boost teacher pay in each year of his four-year term.
Taxation and budget
Reeves is married and has three daughters.
|Mississippi Treasurer Republican Primary Election, 2003|
|Mississippi Treasurer Republican Primary Election Runoff, 2003|
|Mississippi Treasurer Election, 2003|
|Mississippi Treasurer Election, 2007|
|Republican||Tate Reeves (inc.)||436,833||60.53|
|Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Election, 2011|
|Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Election, 2011|
|Reform||Tracella Lou O'Hara||157,547||19.65|
|Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Election, 2015|
|Republican||Tate Reeves (inc.)||225,192||82.50|
|Republican||Alisha Nelson McElhenney||47,760||17.50|
|Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Election, 2015|
|Republican||Tate Reeves (inc.)||429,990||60.45|
|Mississippi Governor Republican Primary Election, 2019|
|Republican||Bill Waller Jr.||124,707||33.3|
|Mississippi Governor Republican Primary Election Runoff, 2019|
|Republican||Bill Waller Jr.||148,471||45.72|
- @tatereeves (November 24, 2019). "Eighteen years ago, we had no idea we would begin today on a soccer field after 12 times on the ballot, 5 elections…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Adam Ganucheau, Rankin County 'kingmaker': Hometown boy Tate Reeves not a sure thing in runoff with Bill Waller, Mississippi Today (July 29, 2019).
- Adam Ganucheau, 'I'm very proud today': The man behind Tate Reeves' rise to power, Mississippi Today (April 9, 2019).
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Mississippi gov is pranked in shout-out to high school grads, Associated Press (May 20, 2020).
- Bologna, Giacomo (February 8, 2019). "Tate Reeves thrust into national controversy over racist frat photos". The Clarion-Ledger.
- Gary Perilloux, Reeves takes an early shot at political office, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (October 25, 2003).
- Pittman, Ashton (February 8, 2019). "Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves' Fraternity Wore Black Face, Hurled the N-Word at Black Students". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
- Terkel, Amanda (February 8, 2019). "Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Was Member Of College Fraternity Under Fire For Racism". HuffPost. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
- Ashton Pittman, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves' 2003 Victory over Gary Anderson 'All About Race,' Critics Say, Jackson Free Press (March 11, 2019).
- Bobby Harrison, Outgoing treasurer Bennett honored, Daily Journal (June 25, 2003).
- "Anderson, Reeves out to early leads in treasurer primaries". The Sun Herald.
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Anderson, Reeves Win Nominations For Treasurer, Greenwood Commonwealth (August 26, 2003)
- Byrd, Sheila Hardwell (November 6, 2003). "Race may have been factor in Miss. elections". The Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press.
- Sid Salter, Tate Reeves, Jim Hood race will be an old school, political street brawl, Clarion ledger (October 3, 2018).
- "Reeves launches campaign for lt. gov". Associated Press. February 6, 2011.
- August 2, 2011 Primary Election Results: Republican Primary (Certified) (PDF) (Report). Mississippi Secretary of State.
- Official Tabulation of Vote for State Office of Lieutenant Governor (PDF) (Report). Mississippi Secretary of State. 2011.
- Bobby Harrison, Senate Republicans reject plan to expand Medicaid, provide health care coverage to 300,000 more Mississippians, Mississippi Today (February 10, 2021).
- The Latest: Lt. governor says no to increasing gas tax, Associated Press (April 12, 2018).
- "Tate Reeves re-elected as Mississippi Lt. Governor". WLOX. November 3, 2015.
- "The Latest: GOP's Reeves files for Mississippi governor". Associated Press. January 3, 2019.
- Richard Fausset, Mississippi Governor Primary: Republican Favorite Is Forced Into Runoff, New York Times (August 6, 2019).
- Bologna, Giacomo; Ramseth, Luke (August 7, 2019). "Tate Reeves, Bill Waller head to runoff for Republican governor primary". Jackson Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
- Stephen D. Shaffer, "Mississippi: Republican Hegemony Persists" in The 2020 Presidential Election in the South. Eds. Scott E. Buchanan & Branwell Dubose Kapeluck. (Lexington Books, 2021), p. 113.
- Moser, Bob (April 7, 2020). "How Mississippi's Governor Undermined Efforts to Contain the Coronavirus". The New Yorker.
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Mississippi governor candidate Reeves decries 'liberals', Associated Press (April 8, 2019).
- Lee, Jasmine C.; Andre, Mike; White, Isaac (August 27, 2019). "Mississippi Primary Runoff Election Results". The New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
- Ramseth, Luke; Balogna, Giacomo (November 5, 2019). "Republican Tate Reeves wins Mississippi governor race". Mississippi Clarion Ledger. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
- Adam Ganucheau & Bobby Harrison, Tate Reeves defeats Jim Hood, secures Republican sweep of statewide offices, Mississippi Today (November 6, 2019).
- 2019 General Election Official Statewide Recapitulation, Mississippi Secretary of State.
- Emily Wagster Pettus, New Gov. Tate Reeves pledges to work 'for all Mississippi', Associated Press (January 14, 2020).
- Emily Wagster Pettus (November 5, 2020). "Mississippi governor says he'd veto mail-in or early voting". Associated Press.
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Analysis: Politics infuse Mississippi governor's budget plan, Associated Press (November 22, 2020).
- Trump again wins Mississippi, with its 6 electoral votes, Associated Press (November 3, 2020).
- Adam Ganucheau, Kayleigh Skinner and Bobby Harrison, At Trump rally in Tupelo, impeachment inquiry steals spotlight from Tate Reeves, governor's race, Mississippi Today (November 1, 2019).
- Luke Ramseth & Giacomo Bologna, Trump rally in Tupelo MS: Here's what the president said about Reeves, Hood, Mississippi Clarion Ledger (November 1, 2019).
- Bobby Harrison, Gov. Reeves condemns white supremacy, but not Trump for refusing to do same, Mississippi Today (September 30, 2020).
- Ashton Pittman, Gov. Tate Reeves Defends Trump's White Supremacy Remarks; Mum on Ending Jim Crow Law, Mississippi Free Press (September 30, 2020).
- Harrison, Bobby (December 14, 2020). "Mississippi electors vote Trump, top officials cast doubt about election results in other states". Mississippi Today. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
- Justin Baragona, Post-Mask Mississippi Guv Refuses to Say Biden 'Legitimately and Lawfully Elected', Daily Beast (March 7, 2021).
- Christine Hauser, Mississippi Governor Clarifies Order Defining Most Businesses as Essential, New York Times (March 26, 2020).
- Adam Ganusheau, Mayors scramble to know: Does Gov. Reeves' coronavirus declaration clash with local orders?, Mississippi Today (March 26, 2020).
- "Mississippi Churches, Stores Reopen As Governor Overrides Mayors' COVID-19 Orders". Mississippi Free Press. March 26, 2020. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
- "Mississippi governor reconsiders reopening state after its largest spike of COVID-19 deaths and cases". Good Morning America. ABC News. May 2, 2020.
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Mississippi governor says his youngest daughter has COVID-19, Associated Press (November 10, 2020).
- Jaclyn Peiser, Mississippi's governor limited gatherings in the state. But he's still inviting legislators to holiday parties., Washington Post (December 9, 2020).
- Leah Willingham, Mississippi governor defends hosting parties amid virus, Associated Press (December 9, 2020).
- Stribling, Will (April 30, 2021). "Gov. Reeves ends previous COVID-19 restrictions, keeps school mask mandate". Mississippi Today. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
- Williams, Angela (April 30, 2021). "Governor's executive order sets end date for school mask mandate". WAPT.
- Emily Wagster Pettus & Leah Willingham, Mississippi governor: Masks recommended but not mandated, Associated Press (March 2, 2021).
- Mississippi governor says CDC mask guidance is 'foolish', Associated Press (July 29, 2021).
- Devan Cole (April 4, 2021). "Mississippi GOP governor pushes back on vaccine passports: 'I don't think it's a good thing to do in America'". CNN.
- Haselhorst, Sarah (April 6, 2021). "'I don't think it's necessary': Mississippi governor admonishes vaccine passports". The Clarion-Ledger.
- Melina Delkic, Mississippi has the country's lowest vaccination rates. The governor says that’s not a problem., New York Times (June 6, 2021).
- "Tate Reeves: Biden vaccine mandate an 'attack on hardworking Americans'". the Guardian. September 19, 2021. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
- Leah Willingham (September 10, 2020). "Mississippi governor calls Biden vaccine mandate 'tyranny'". Associated Press.
- Angela Williams, President takes on Mississippi governor over vaccine mandates, WAPT (September 17, 2021).
- Josh Carter, The war of words between Tate Reeves and Joe Biden continues to escalate, WDAM (September 16, 2021).
- Kobee Vance, Governor Tate Reeves announces lawsuit to challenge Biden administration vaccine mandate, Mississippi Public Broadcasting (September 14, 2021).
- Ashton Pittman (August 28, 2021). "Mississippi Passes NY's COVID Death Rate; Reeves Says Residents 'Less Scared'". Mississippi Free Press.
- Emily Wagster Pettus (August 30, 2021). "Mississippi governor: Christians are 'less scared' of COVID". Associated Press.
- Blake Alsup, Gov. Tate Reeves won't call special session to address hospital staffing shortage, Daily Journal (August 19, 2021).
- Bump, Philip. "Analysis: 'There is not systemic racism' says a governor who named April as Confederate Heritage Month". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
- Pender, Geoff; Skinner, Kayleigh (June 27, 2020). "Gov. Tate Reeves: If Legislature passes bill to change state flag, 'I will sign it'". Mississippi Today. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
- Madani, Doha; Stelloh, Tim (June 28, 2020). "Mississippi Legislature passes bill to eliminate Confederate symbol from state flag". NBC News. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
- Pettus, Emily Wagster (June 30, 2020). "With a pen stroke, Mississippi drops Confederate-themed flag". Associated Press.
- Leah Willingham, Mississippi governor vetoes criminal justice bills, Associated Press (July 9, 2020).
- Emily Wagner Pettus, Mississippi governor agrees to expand possibility of parole, Associated Press (April 22, 2021).
- Tyler Wann, Despite new state law, dozens imprisoned in Mississippi for nonviolent acts will never get paroled, Mississippi Center For Investigative Reporting (June 28, 2021).
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Mississippi gov: No plan for pardon in life sentence for pot, Associated Press (August 31, 2020).
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Mississippi governor: Close part of notorious state prison, Associated Press (January 27, 2020).
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Mississippi governor tours prison rocked by deadly violence, Associated Press (January 23, 2020).
- Hannah Knowles & Marisa Iati, Nine have died in a month at a notorious Mississippi prison, and the governor has had enough, Washington Post (January 28, 2020).
- Gov. Reeves: Inmates being transferred out of Unit 29 at Parchman, WJTV (February 19, 2020).
- Luke Ramseth, Reeves says excessive cars, comp time among wasteful spending at MDOC in recent years, Mississippi Clarion Ledger (February 8, 2020).
- "Governor 'long way' from deciding on if he'll call special session". WAPT. May 18, 2021. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
- Taylor Vance, Gov. Tate Reeves supports special session for medical marijuana, Daily Journal (June 15, 2021).
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Gov supports 'will of voters' on issue of medical marijuana, Associated Press (June 7, 2021).
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Mississippi governor proposes phasing out state income tax, Associated Press (November 16, 2020).
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Analysis: Mississippi leaders try big, quick tax changes, Associated Press (February 28, 2021).
- Emily Wagster Pettus, Mississippi tax cut plan: Alive, then dead, then alive again, Associated Press (March 16, 2021).
- "Mississippi General Election Results 2019". ClarionLedger.com. November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
Media related to Tate Reeves at Wikimedia Commons