Elvis Presley’s second cousin, Democrat Brandon Presley, told supporters that he called and conceded to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in Tuesday’s closely watched Misssissippi governor’s race.
Networks had yet to call the race, but Presley was trailing the incumbent governor by around 50,000 votes. It was later called by the Associated Press.
The 46-year-old public service commissioner was the first Democrat in years who looked like he could put a dent on Republicans’ grip of the Mississippi governor’s mansion.
‘We didn’t win, they did. But we won the hearts and sould of hundreds of thousands of Mississippians,’ Presley told supporters, according to CNN. ‘Unfortunately, it looks like we came up a little short and I spoke with Gov. Reeves just a minute ago. We congratulated him on his victory.’
Votes in Mississippi’s very Democratic Hinds County were slow to come in, giving the appearance for hours that Presley might be able to make up Reeves’ lead.
Democrat Brandon Presley told supporters late Tuesday that he had called Republican Gov. Tate Reeves to concede the Mississippi governor’s race, falling short of shocking the country with a Democratic win in a deep red state
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves gives a high five to a supporter as he celebrated victory Tuesday night over Democrat Brandon Presley
In the run-up to Tuesday’s off-off-year elections, Presley received attention thanks to his famous last name, support from best-selling author John Grisham and ability to outraise Reeves, who was embroiled in a scandal alongside retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre.
Presley was born into poverty just three weeks before Elvis died in 1977.
He grew up – and still lives in his childhood home – in the town of Nettleton, Mississippi.
‘My cousin grew up just down the road in Tupelo. You’ve probably heard of him,’ Presley said in his announcement video, holding up a picture of The King.
The candidate’s grandfather, Noah, was Elvis’ grandfather Jesse’s brother.
Family tragedy continued during Presley’s childhood, as his alcoholic father was murdered on his first day of third grade and his uncle, Sheriff Harold Ray Presley, was killed in the line of duty.
His mother raised him and often had trouble paying the bills.
Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Tate Reeves (right) was successful in fending off a challenge from Democrat Brandon Presley, Elvis Presley’s second cousin. He is interview on Election Day Tuesday alongside his wife Elee
Mississippi’s Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Brandon Presley holds up a picture of his second cousin, Elvis Presley, in a video announcing his campaign
‘Growing up here, we could see through the floor, straight down to the dirt,’ Presley said in his introductory video. ‘She was our rock and never let us feel as poor as we really were.’
After college, Presley returned to Nettleton and ran for mayor – winning the race and becoming the youngest mayor in the state’s history, at age 23.
He went on to serve as the Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, first appearing on the ballot in 2007 and last winning reelection in 2019.
Reeves served as lieutenant governor before being elected in 2019.
He was dragged down, like his Republican predecessor, Gov. Phil Bryant, by the $77 million welfare scandal that also ensnarled Favre.
Reeves has denied any wrongdoing but there’s some evidence he talked to Favre about using government funds to build a volleyball arena at University of Southern Mississippi during the early months of 2020, as he had just taken office.
More recently The Daily Beast published an expose on Reeves’ spending on the governor’s mansion, which included an architectural feature for lemon trees, and a meditation garden.
While Presley used those scandals in attack ads, they didn’t do enough to damage Reeves in the highly Republican state.
A Democrat hasn’t been elected governor in Mississippi this century, with it last happening in 1999.