With a promise to expand Medicaid and a focus on turning out Black voters, Brandon Presley is confident he can do what no Democrat has done in 20 years.

After stopping by a meet-and-greet in Ridgeland, a porch festival in Vicksburg, the Great Delta Bear Affair in Rolling Fork and an event on a baseball diamond in Yazoo City, Brandon Presley entered a packed room in McComb, launching into the message he believes can get a Democrat — namely, himself — elected governor of Mississippi.

He would immediately move to expand Medicaid, which would help resuscitate rural hospitals and provide largely free government health insurance to most low-income adults. He would slash a hated tax on groceries. Above all, he assured the crowd, he would be a very different governor than Tate Reeves, the Republican incumbent, whom he denounced as ensconced in privilege and dented by scandal.

“The fight in politics in Mississippi is not right versus left,” Mr. Presley, an elected public utilities commissioner and a former mayor of Nettleton, his tiny hometown in northern Mississippi, said in McComb. “And sometimes, it’s not even Democrat versus Republican. It’s those of us on the outside versus those of them on the inside.”

Mr. Presley’s campaign has been a built on a bet that his human touch and populist platform can forge a coalition of Black and liberal-to-centrist white voters, some disaffected Republicans among them, that is robust enough for him to win. It is a test of a blueprint that Democrats have long relied on, but to diminishing effect in recent decades, as Republicans have tightened their grip on power in Mississippi and most of the South.


Mr. Presley, left, and Tate Reeves, the Republican incumbent, during a debate on Wednesday.Credit…Brett Kenyon/WAPT, via Associated Press

Yet Mr. Presley has gained decent momentum — and with it, the attention of Democrats outside Mississippi. He has raised more than $11 million since January, far outpacing Mr. Reeves, and has used the money to flood television and radio stations with campaign advertisements.

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