/Hood’s Obama robocalls, Reeves’ public teacher emails mark last-minute turnout efforts for guv campaigns

Hood’s Obama robocalls, Reeves’ public teacher emails mark last-minute turnout efforts for guv campaigns

On Monday, President Barack Obama sent a robocall in Hood’s name to all voters. This was a sudden departure from Hood’s ongoing political strategy of refusing national endorsements by Democratic politicians. In an email, the Obama press office confirmed that the ex-president made the robocall on Tuesday morning. Mississippi Today was told by Katie Hill, communications director at the Obama office, that President Obama made a robocall to Hood. Hood, who considers himself a moderate Democrat focused his campaign on state issues like improving education and infrastructure. These issues were the focus of Obama’s call. Obama stated that Jim Hood would expand Medicaid to 300,000 more people and fight for Mississippi’s rural hospitals to stay open. He also promised to raise teacher salaries and create an administration as diverse and as Mississippi. The call ended by stating that Obama’s robocall was paid for by Jim Hood’s friends. According to Secretary of State records, no such committee is listed. After the call was published on Monday night, several inquiries from Hood’s campaign for comment were not answered. Hood has actually gone to great lengths to avoid what Hood called party labels and counter attacks by Reeves, prominent Republicans looking to pair him up with Obama and other national Democrats. Conservative leaders used the robocall Monday night to accuse Hood for reversing that strategy. “At the eleventh hour Jim Hood had Barack Obama endorse me for Governor of Mississippi,” Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted a link to the robocall that was first published on conservative news site Y’all Politics. “Now we know what he truly believes. Vote Republican Tomorrow and End This Once and For All.” Obama made a similar call on Monday to Louisiana for Democratic Governor. John Bel Edwards is facing a difficult general election challenge later in the month. On Monday, Lt. Governor also sent emails to public school teachers in the state. Tate Reeves is the Republican nominee to be governor. Reeves sent emails to the school email addresses. He detailed his education plan and offered teacher raises. Reeves’ main campaign committee, Tate for Governor paid for the email letters. Patrice Guilfoyle is a spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Education. She confirmed that the Reeves campaign obtained these email addresses via a public records request. The letters were sent to teachers in Lamar County (Rankin County), Ocean Springs, Brookhaven and Newton County as well as Tupelo. However, social media reports suggest that they also reached other districts. Social media reports that many of the letters were blocked due to spam. Reeves has been criticized by education advocacy and public educators, especially this year. They were dissatisfied with the $1,500 public school teacher salary increase that was passed in the 2019 legislative session. This occurred during an election year. Mississippi teachers are still among the least-paid in the country, despite the salary increase. Some advocacy groups claimed that teachers in Mississippi were considering a strike or walkout earlier this year to protest the low pay. Reeves is also a strong supporter of taxpayer funding for students attending private schools. Reeves was instrumental in securing $2 million more in an appropriations bill to fund special needs students’ private school educations. He wrote that he believed teachers at the front lines were best able to make informed decisions about state policy. “That is why I committed to forming a Teacher Advisory Board to directly advise me on teacher shortages.” he said in an email. Many schools prohibit teachers from using school district email addresses for political purposes. In 2016, John Moore (R-Brandon), the House Education Chair, introduced legislation that made it a crime for school personnel to use school equipment or property for political purposes. It could be punishable with a $10,000 fine. The bill was defeated in committee. In 2016, the legislative leadership included language in an eleventh-hour appropriations bill that would prohibit school superintendents using public funds for membership fees to their professional organization providing continuing education courses. This was generally considered a punishment for teachers who supported the Initiative 42 ballot initiative, which was intended to strengthen the state Constitution’s commitment to public education. That opposition was led by Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) and Reeves. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to us today as we celebrate our Spring Member Drive.