FLOWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and the Democrat trying to unseat him this year, Brandon Presley, traded barbs on transgender crime, courts and health care on Friday during separate appearances before editors and publishers of newspapers.
Reeves, seeking a second term, said at the Mississippi Press Association convention that Presley did not respond to questions about two bills Reeves had signed into law. One prohibits gender-affirming health care for transgender minors. The other expands the role of the state police in Mississippi’s capital and creates positions for certain judges who are appointed in a state where most judges are elected.
Reeves said people tell him they’re worried “the lines between boys and girls will fade,” and he shares those concerns.
“We’ve signed bills in Mississippi to prevent children from having life-altering experimental procedures,” Reeves said.
Reeves’ language echoes that of groups that oppose LGBTQ+ rights, including the Family Research Council, which has backed model legislation saying “gender transition is an experiment.” Dr. Jack Drescher, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who edited the section on gender dysphoria in the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, said valid science supports affirming care. gender for transgender youth.
“So far in Mississippi, my opponent — he won’t say a word,” Reeves said. “You all spilled a lot of ink on the legislation when I signed it.”
Presley appeared about an hour after Reeves and answered a question about the gender-affirming healthcare ban for minors.
“I trust families,” Presley said. “I trust moms, I trust dads, to take care of their children’s health care.”
Presley, in his fourth term as Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District of Mississippi, said Reeves talks about transgender issues as “a smokescreen” to distract from the issues, including a social fraud scheme multi-million dollar business that grew while Reeves was lieutenant governor.
“Before this campaign is over, if he hides his record of corruption…if he hides the fact that hospitals are closing, he will say that Martians have landed in Montgomery County, to distract your attention,” said Presley.
Reeves said Democrats passionately oppose expanding the role of state police in Jackson and creating positions for appointed judges. The NAACP filed a federal lawsuit arguing that Mississippi is creating “separate and unequal policing” in the majority of Black Jacksons compared to the rest of the state. The trial is still pending.
Leaders of the majority white, Republican-controlled Legislature said the law was intended to reduce crime in Jackson, which has recorded more than 100 homicides in each of the past three years. The city has about 150,000 inhabitants.
“I think it’s a good thing to have more people working for public safety in our state capitol,” Reeves said.
He said Presley hoped to avoid questions about the law.
“And he’s on his knees praying that you don’t challenge him when the answer he gives is a whole lot of nothing,” Reeves said. “Just talking points from out-of-state left-leaning consultants who told him to shut up about anything that voters care about and anything that isn’t a personal attack on me.”
Presley said that when he was mayor of the small town of Nettleton, he wouldn’t have wanted the legislature to tell him how to run the police department. He also said he supported the election of judges, not their appointment.
“Obviously there has to be a solution to the crime problem in and around Jackson. I’m not oblivious to that,” Presley said. “But I can tell you this… you are not going to solve this problem effectively without collaboration with the local authorities.”
Presley also spoke about his uncle, Lee County Sheriff Harold Ray Presley, who was killed in 2001.
“I stood over the coffin of a loved one killed in the line of duty as a police officer. I did it,” Brandon Presley said. “So I’m not going to allow Tate Reeves to try to teach me anything when it comes to defending our police officers and law enforcement. He can save that hot air for somebody else. ‘other. .”