Candidate profile: One-on-one with Brandon Presley

Published: Oct. 31, 2023 at 7:08 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Brandon Presley made it a mission to visit all 82 counties as part of his campaign.

“Our message is getting out,” said Presley. “Crowds are growing, and it feels really good.”

For those who haven’t seen him on the campaign trail, he says the question of why he wants to be governor boils down to this.

“I’m running for governor because I’ve got the guts to take on the fights that matter to the people of Mississippi, whether that is Medicaid expansion to get that done to save our hospitals and to get 230,000 people health care,” Presley noted. “I’ve got the guts and the backbone to take on an entrenched system that is corrupt, that is bought and paid for, and I am willing to fight anybody, anywhere, anytime, for the people in Mississippi.”

Other centerpieces of his platform include eliminating sales tax for all groceries and cutting car tag fees. He believes his background is more relatable to the average Mississippian.

However, he never discusses his platform without explaining his position on Medicaid expansion.

“Not expanding Medicaid has been one of the dumbest decisions we have ever made in this state,” he adds.

It’s something he says he’d tackle on day one in office if elected.

“These are people that work for a living,” explained Presley. “They’re not folks that are out trying to game the system. They’re folks that are getting up, going to work, putting in 40-60 hours a week, and their employer is not able to provide them healthcare. Unlike some national Democrats that are dead wrong, I don’t blame the employer. I understand small businesses are trying to keep their doors open and keep folks employed. Medicaid expansion will help those 230,000 people get access to health care, and in the process, we can create 16,000 healthcare jobs.”

We followed that answer up by asking about his comment on national Democrats and asked if he could discuss trying to combat the idea that he’s tied to various national Democrats.

“Look, I’ve been my own person my entire political career. I’m hard-headed, fiercely independent,” Presley said. “Nobody is going to tell Brandon Presley what to do from a national standpoint or anywhere else, quite frankly. I do my own thinking.”

Brandon Presley is giving an open invitation to anyone wanting to join his campaign.

“I said when I got into this race that I wanted to knit together the state, black Mississippians and white Mississippians, Republicans, Democrats, and independents, and I think that’s a coalition that on election day is going to deliver a victory,” he noted.

One of his campaign ads highlighted that with a round-robin of GOP voters.

“One of the proudest things in this campaign for me has been the fact that we can’t keep Republican for Presley signs,” he described. “And it’s the been the number of Republicans that have come over and said, you know, I hadn’t voted for a Democrat in years, but I’m gonna vote for you.”

He’s been criticized by Tate Reeves for the gender-affirming care for transgender youth issue. It’s something Reeves has made a focus of his campaign. But it’s forced Presley to respond.

“I’ve never supported sex changes for minors,” Presley said. “I’ve not supported boys playing girls’ sports. Tate Reeves knows that.”

We asked if there were some issues he wished had been part of the back and forth over the course of the last several months that didn’t make it into the conversation.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “Issues like mental health. In Mississippi, we’ve not talked a lot about mental health in the state. It’s a crisis. The federal government had to have a consent order not too long ago related to mental health. To me, how we treat those who have mental illness is really a character test for us as a state. I hate that that’s not come up on the campaign as much as I wish it would have. Also, on public education, you know, I oppose vouchers for private schools. That issue has not really risen to the prominence that I wish that it would have. I guess that’s the nature of campaigns.”

And if it comes to runoff for the first time in the state’s history:

“We feel like we’re gonna win November 7, but we’ll be ready for whatever comes,” Presley noted. “You know, if there’s a runoff, we’ll beat Tate Reeves in a runoff. I think if an incumbent governor has to go to a runoff, he’s in bad shape with the electorate.”

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