Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves appears to have won reelection Tuesday, fending off a challenge from Democrat Brandon Presley, a second cousin of Elvis Presley.

The Associated Press called the race at 12:35 a.m. Wednesday for Reeves, about an hour after Presley conceded the race.

Reeves first won the 2019 governor’s race beating Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood. Reeves was previously the state’s lieutenant governor and state treasurer.

Presley is a former mayor of Nettleton, Mississippi, a position he held for six years before getting elected in 2007 to the Mississippi Public Service Commission. 

Presley, 46, was born less than a month before his famous second cousin died in 1977. In August, he married Katelyn Mabus, who is a cousin to former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus, a Democrat who served from 1988 to 1992.

Democrats hoped to flip the red state that hasn’t had a Democratic victory in the governor’s mansion for two decades. Presley outraised the Republican incumbent nearly 2-to-1. Presley’s campaign hauled in $11.3 million compared with $6.3 million for Reeves, The Associated Press reported

Ronnie Musgrove was the last Democrat to hold the governor’s office, from 2000 to 2004. 

Presley ran against Reeves, 49, for declining to expand Medicaid in the state. Presley also ran on a campaign of ethics reform after a welfare scandal, in which money was improperly spent on pet projects for wealthy residents. 

Mississippi has been reliably red in presidential politics, voting Republican in every cycle since 1980, but governor’s races can be more competitive. 

Last month, independent candidate Gwendolyn Gray dropped out of the race and endorsed Presley. However, her name is still on the ballot. 

The governor’s race also came with two changes. 

In August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a law that imposed a lifetime ban on voting by certain convicted felons in the state. That’s viewed as potentially helping increase voter turnout for Democrats. 

In 2020, Mississippi voters scrapped a law that required a gubernatorial candidate and other candidates for statewide office to win both the state’s popular vote and the popular vote of a majority of the 122 state House districts. Failing that, the state House of Representatives would decide the winner. This year, a candidate only has to win the state’s popular vote. 

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