(CN) – With the support of President Donald Trump, Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves was elected governor Tuesday night, defeating Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood in a race that secures the state’s status as a Republican stronghold ahead of the 2020 presidential contest.
Reeves, a former state treasurer who served two terms as lieutenant governor, will replace Republican Governor Phil Bryant, who was barred from seeking a third term because of term limits.
Leading his Democratic opponent throughout the night, Reeves took in 53% of the vote to Hood’s 46%, with a 50,647 vote advantage, according to unofficial election results with 87% of precincts reporting.
Reeves’ victory comes four days after Trump held a rally in Tupelo, and after months of depicting Hood, the state’s four-term attorney general and the only Democratic statewide officeholder, as a “liberal and phony” who opposes the president and conservative policies.
“I believe that we must stand up to the liberals who are doing great damage to this country. Jim Hood is with them,” Reeves said in an email to supporters last month.
Mississippi Democrats saw Hood, 57, as their strongest nominee in years in the ultra-red Deep South state that has not elected a Democratic governor in two decades. He positioned himself as an anti-abortion, pro-gun Democrat who campaigned on expanding Medicaid and on improving schools, roads and hospitals.
Reeves, 45, outspent his opponent, according to state campaign finance reports, and also enjoyed support from major Republican figures, including Trump, Mississippi’s outgoing governor, Vice President Mike Pence, and Donald Trump Jr.
The governor-elect ran on a platform promising to manage the state’s budget with a firm hand, highlighted gains to the state’s economy in the last four years, and routinely likened Hood to national Democratic figures such as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.
In a closing campaign ad, Reeves attacked Hood for suing the Trump administration as attorney general “despite never suing President Obama.”
“Now liberals are impeaching Trump. Do you stand with our president and Tate Reeves or with the liberals and Jim Hood?” the narrator asks.
“All I know about Jim Hood is he fought very hard to elect crooked Hillary Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama,” Trump told supporters Friday. “He wanted Obama to win so badly and then he wanted Hillary to win, and that’s not the kind of guy we need here, not Mississippi.”
Reeves will take office when Bryant’s term ends Jan. 14.