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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: 32888

Reported Deaths: 1188
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds264246
DeSoto176718
Madison135536
Jones115949
Neshoba101673
Harrison100312
Rankin99915
Lauderdale93781
Forrest92743
Scott78515
Jackson70417
Copiah62715
Washington62610
Leake59820
Lee57521
Holmes57041
Oktibbeha55728
Wayne55116
Warren54020
Yazoo5336
Grenada5227
Lowndes51513
Leflore50756
Lamar5007
Lincoln49234
Pike46617
Sunflower4368
Monroe43135
Lafayette4194
Covington3965
Panola3926
Bolivar37018
Attala36523
Simpson3603
Newton35210
Adams33218
Tate31912
Pontotoc3166
Marion30812
Chickasaw29119
Claiborne28910
Winston28210
Noxubee2738
Pearl River26932
Jasper2666
Marshall2643
Clay25111
Smith23412
Union23311
Coahoma2136
Clarke21125
Walthall2087
Lawrence1892
Yalobusha1838
Kemper17914
Carroll17111
Humphreys1569
Tallahatchie1564
Montgomery1432
Calhoun1425
Tippah14211
Itawamba1408
Hancock13413
Webster12811
Tunica1153
Jefferson1143
Jefferson Davis1144
Prentiss1113
Greene1089
Amite1043
George943
Wilkinson949
Tishomingo911
Quitman891
Alcorn762
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone722
Franklin472
Benton420
Sharkey400
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 46424

Reported Deaths: 1032
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5687161
Mobile4315136
Montgomery4275109
Tuscaloosa238248
Marshall181511
Madison16208
Lee146337
Shelby141424
Morgan11575
Baldwin10399
Walker101825
Elmore97519
Dallas9189
Franklin90616
Etowah83413
DeKalb7905
Chambers64727
Autauga64312
Butler63728
Tallapoosa60669
Russell5890
Unassigned53826
Houston5366
Limestone5251
Lauderdale5146
Cullman4905
Lowndes47922
Pike4525
Colbert4426
St. Clair4402
Escambia4358
Calhoun4035
Coffee3923
Covington38110
Bullock36910
Barbour3622
Jackson3432
Talladega3337
Dale3261
Marengo32011
Hale31722
Wilcox2958
Clarke2876
Sumter28512
Winston2773
Chilton2762
Blount2581
Monroe2442
Pickens2446
Marion24114
Randolph2289
Conecuh2187
Macon2029
Choctaw19912
Bibb1981
Greene1888
Perry1791
Henry1403
Crenshaw1253
Washington1217
Lawrence1130
Cherokee1117
Geneva860
Lamar801
Fayette721
Clay692
Coosa601
Cleburne391
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