Mississippi governor doling out campaign cash to fellow Republicans as election approaches

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JACKSON, Mississippi — Challenged by a Democrat running a low-budget campaign, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is spending millions to seek a second term. But he's also giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars to fellow Republicans and is making donations to charities.

Candidates filed their latest campaign finance reports Tuesday, a week before the Nov. 3 general election.

Bryant this year has raised $1.6 million and spent $2.7 million, and he still has nearly $1.4 million on hand.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Robert Gray, a truck driver making his first run for public office, has raised $4,835 and spent $3,141 this year, leaving him $1,694 on hand. Gray's new finance report does not include any details about who gave money to his campaign or how the money was spent.

Bryant's campaign has spent nearly twice as much on payroll taxes — $6,132 — than Gray has spent on his entire effort.

Bryant has contributed $337,581 this year to the Mississippi Republican Party; plus $16,000 in cash and $29,740 of unspecified "in-kind" contributions to Mike Hurst, the Republican nominee for attorney general. An in-kind contribution is usually a donation of services rather than cash, such as help with campaign activities.

Bryant has also given $20,000 to Mississippi Political Initiative Committee, a group opposing the Initiative 42 school funding proposal. He has also given $11,000 in cash, combined, to three Republican state House candidates; and $3,913, combined, in unspecified in-kind contributions to six Republican legislative candidates.

The governor's campaign has also donated $1,000 to the Salvation Army of Greater Jackson and $500 to Center for Pregnancy Choices in Jackson, which provides information about pregnancy, including testing, but says on its website, "we do not recommend or refer for abortion."

Bryant has said repeatedly that he wants to end abortion in Mississippi. Gray has said he doesn't think women would need to seek abortion if the economy were stronger.

Other Mississippi incumbents are outspending their challengers by wide margins, including Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, who has raised more than $1.9 million and spent nearly $1.3 million as he seeks a fourth term. Hurst, a former federal prosecutor, has raised $948,120 and spent $861,502.

Hood's campaign has received $850,000 from the Denver-based Democratic Attorneys General Association.

Hurst's campaign received $81,000 from the Mississippi Republican Party.


Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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