By Bobby Harrison
Brandon Presley of Nettleton will host a political fundraiser on Thursday featuring a diverse and noteworthy group of donors — especially noteworthy for a campaign for the down-ticket office of Northern District Public Service commissioner.
The fundraiser, which will be held in Tupelo at the birthplace and museum of Brandon Presley’s famous cousin Elvis, will net at least $209,000, based on the level of commitment of donors listed on an invitation card.
Whether the 94 people named on the fundraiser invitation are donating to Presley’s 2023 reelection campaign to the three-member Public Service Commission or to another post is not clear.
Presley has long been rumored as a possible Democratic candidate for governor — presumably against Republican incumbent Tate Reeves in 2023.
But Presley still is publicly non-committal.
“I am concentrating on trying to get internet to every household in the state, trying to keep utility rates affordable during this time of high inflation,” Presley told Mississippi Today. “I am trying to work on things that make a difference for average Mississippians.”
He also has been active in trying to ensure all Mississippians have access to safe water.
If Presley does opt to run for governor, presumably against Reeves, the Democrat will need multiple fundraising efforts like what will be held at the Elvis birthplace and museum on Thursday.
In each of his five statewide campaigns, Reeves has had overwhelming fundraising advantages over his opponents. In his 2019 campaign for governor, Reeves outspent his Democratic opponent, former Attorney General Jim Hood, $15.6 million to $5.2 million.
But interestingly, a handful of members of Reeves’ 2019 Finance Committee are listed as donors for Presley’s Thursday fund-raiser in Tupelo. They include Amory businessman Barry Wax, Johnny Crane of Fulton and Colin Maloney of Tupelo.
Wax, a longtime Republican donor, is listed as donating at least $10,000 for the Tupelo fundraiser and donated $25,000 to Presley during calendar year 2021.
Based on the January campaign finance filings with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, Reeves had $4.8 million in cash on hand compared to $520,000 for Presley. At the same time period before the 2019 gubernatorial election, Hood had $656,393 cash on hand while Reeves, then lieutenant governor, had $5.4 million.
But among the standouts of Presley’s fundraising to date is the number of Republicans who have written him checks.
Of the campaign donors, “We are fortunate to include a large group of Republicans and we always appreciate the support of all the solid Democrats and the independents,” Presley said. “I have always tried to be the type of elected official who reaches across the aisle to try to find solutions … I have tried not to get caught up in the echo chamber.”
Presley added, the donors “are people I know.”
The next filing of campaign finance reports is not scheduled until January 2023. But in 2023, an election year, there will be many more required filing of campaign finance reports with the Secretary of State’s office.