Former chief justice Waller to run for governor

Bill Waller, Jr.

Retired state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. confirmed Wednesday that he plans to run for Mississippi governor as a Republican.

Posted: Feb 13, 2019 7:31 PM
Updated: Feb 14, 2019 11:18 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Retired state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. confirmed Wednesday that he plans to run for Mississippi governor as a Republican, telling WJTV-TV that he plans to qualify before the March 1 deadline and will formally announce plans then. The Clarion Ledger first reported Waller's plans.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and state Rep. Robert Foster of Hernando have already qualified as Republicans, setting up a Republican primary in August with at least three candidates including Waller. Democrats will also have a contested primary, with Attorney General Jim Hood and retired Jackson State University employee Velesha P. Williams having already announced.

"There's been an outpouring of support from all over," Waller told WJTV. "I believe I can bring something different to the race that is missing now. As for donations, I have commitments but have not collected any money and can't until I officially file to run for office."

Waller said he was in the early stages of organizing a campaign staff, which will probably be headed by his brother Eddie.

The 67-year-old stepped down from the state Supreme Court in January, telling The Associated Press in December that he was "leaning against" a bid for governor, but that he wasn't planning to stop working.

"I think I've got another 10 or 15 years of good service somewhere," Waller said then.

The former chief justice is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his late father, Bill Waller Sr., a Democrat who served from 1972 to 1976 and was the first governor to cleanly break with Mississippi's opposition to desegregation.

The younger Waller was on the state Supreme Court for 21 years, serving the last 10 as chief justice. His record on the court includes a pay raise for judges and an expansion of drug courts. Waller's court also decreed criminal court rules that helped defendants see judges more quickly, and get access to bail and public defenders. Waller also pushed for changes that made sure the state pays for indigent inmates to be represented on appeals.

Reeves and Hood are the heavyweights in the governor's race, having raised much more money than their opponents. Candidates' most recent finance reports showed Reeves had $6.7 million in his campaign fund at the end of 2018, and Hood had just over $1 million.

"We've always expected multiple primary challengers — every open governor's race has plenty," Reeves campaign spokesman Parker Briden said in a statement. "Tate Reeves has held the line against raising taxes or expanding Obamacare and Mississippi voters overwhelmingly want that kind of strong leader as governor."

Foster in a statement said Waller entering the race, "shows a healthy democratic process for our state and that, as I've said all along, voters are looking for another alternative to 'the next guy in line.'"

Retired political science professor Marty Wiseman told the Clarion Ledger that he rates Waller as a serious contender.

"He's creating an alternative for folks who want to vote Republican but are disinclined to vote for Tate Reeves," Wiseman said. "They now will have a legitimate option."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 113876

Reported Deaths: 3238
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7894177
DeSoto693279
Harrison512983
Jackson450384
Rankin389486
Madison381293
Lee351479
Forrest300778
Jones289184
Washington256499
Lafayette248343
Lauderdale2437134
Lamar224238
Oktibbeha200854
Bolivar200477
Neshoba1842111
Lowndes178362
Panola169139
Leflore165887
Sunflower160949
Warren154355
Monroe148172
Pontotoc146119
Marshall141229
Lincoln138957
Pike138256
Copiah136936
Coahoma124936
Scott124929
Yazoo121733
Grenada121638
Simpson121249
Union117425
Tate116039
Leake114640
Holmes114460
Pearl River112959
Itawamba112225
Adams107343
Prentiss104819
Wayne100821
Alcorn98712
George97918
Covington97026
Marion94642
Tippah88922
Newton85627
Chickasaw84026
Tallahatchie84025
Winston83321
Hancock81628
Tishomingo80041
Attala79026
Clarke74351
Clay68421
Jasper67917
Walthall63827
Calhoun62212
Noxubee59617
Smith59116
Montgomery54323
Claiborne53716
Tunica52917
Yalobusha52614
Lawrence51214
Perry48723
Carroll48012
Greene47318
Stone46414
Humphreys42816
Amite42113
Quitman4196
Jefferson Davis40511
Webster37013
Wilkinson33720
Benton3335
Kemper32215
Sharkey28314
Jefferson27510
Franklin2403
Choctaw2056
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22988375
Mobile16788315
Tuscaloosa10235140
Montgomery9978197
Madison922894
Shelby727463
Baldwin661569
Lee651765
Marshall437249
Calhoun422461
Etowah421450
Morgan407135
Houston371734
DeKalb336029
Elmore317353
St. Clair289142
Limestone279730
Walker275593
Talladega263635
Cullman239925
Lauderdale218042
Jackson212515
Franklin203231
Autauga203030
Colbert198731
Russell19283
Blount191125
Dallas186327
Chilton185832
Coffee173211
Escambia172230
Covington171429
Dale166551
Chambers134343
Clarke133617
Pike132713
Tallapoosa131387
Marion107129
Barbour10129
Butler100240
Marengo100222
Winston91913
Geneva8617
Lawrence83732
Pickens83618
Bibb82514
Randolph82016
Hale75830
Clay73612
Washington73412
Cherokee73114
Lowndes70428
Monroe64510
Henry6436
Bullock63917
Crenshaw60330
Perry5856
Fayette56913
Wilcox56412
Conecuh56013
Cleburne5518
Macon53020
Lamar4745
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 54°
Columbus
Overcast
57° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 57°
Oxford
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 45°
Starkville
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 54°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather