WASHINGTON – A distant cousin of rock-and-roll legend Elvis Presley is running for governor in Mississippi, but Democrat Brandon Presley would need the race to be all shook up if he is to prevail on Tuesday in the southern US state.
The 46-year-old spent six years as mayor of Nettleton, a small town in northeastern Mississippi just a few miles from the birthplace of the King.
“My cousin grew up just down the road in Tupelo,” he says, in one of his campaign clips, holding a yellowed photo of Elvis and adding with a smile: “You’ve probably heard of him.”
The politician is a cousin by marriage of the singer who earned global fame with hits like Suspicious Minds, Jailhouse Rock, Hound Dog and All Shook Up.
He was born just days before the American superstar’s surprise death from a heart attack on Aug 16, 1977 at the age of 46.
Today, Brandon Presley is aiming to do what no Democrat has done in 20 years: win the governor’s mansion in Mississippi.
His prospects for victory in the state of three million people, ranked the poorest of America’s 50 states, are limited, given that Republicans control the offices of governor, secretary of state and attorney general as well as both chambers of the state legislature.
But the gap between Mr Presley and the Republican incumbent running for re-election, Tate Reeves, has narrowed significantly in recent weeks.
Mr Presley says that as governor he would substantially expand Medicaid, the health care programme for the poor, as he seeks to build a populist coalition to topple Mr Reeves.
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