Democrat Young to run for Mississippi secretary of state

Published 2:57 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2023

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Shuwaski Young, a Democrat who worked in the Department of Homeland Security during Barack Obama’s presidency, announced Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for Mississippi secretary of state.

This will be Young’s second bid for public office within the past year. In the 2022 midterm elections, he was the Democratic nominee for the seat in Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District. He lost to U.S. Rep. Michael Guest.

If he wins the nomination, he will potentially challenge the Republican incumbent, Michael Watson. The Mississippi Democratic Party has not said whether any other candidates have filed a bid for the position thus far.

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At a Tuesday news conference in front of the state Capitol, Young promised to work with Republicans to promote economic growth, while at the same time scrutinizing how state leaders have handled an ongoing welfare scandal in which millions of dollars intended for poor people were diverted to the rich and powerful.

“We’re going to stop the stealing that’s taking place here in Mississippi,” he said. “It’s clear that charities, which fall under the auspice of the secretary of state’s office, have played some role in the unprecedented corruption that we’re seeing and hearing about.”

While Young is running as a Democrat, he has been a sharp critic of the chair of the Mississippi Democratic Party, Tyree Irving. Young said Irving was “always absent” during his congressional campaign and didn’t help with fundraising or digital organizing.

“He doesn’t have the time or desire to address these issues,” Young told The Associated Press in an earlier interview. “It is a level of arrogance and a level of incompetence that is holding the state back.”

Irving did not respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

Despite his misgivings with the state party under Irving’s leadership, Young said he decided to run as a Democrat because the state party has hired new staffers that will help the organization improve its operations.

After serving three terms as a state senator in coastal Jackson County, Watson ran for secretary of state in 2019 and defeated former Hattiesburg mayor Johnny DuPree. He succeeded Mississippi’s current lieutenant governor, Republican Delbert Hosemann, who held the secretary of state’s office for three terms.

Watson has launched initiatives to empower businesses to combat human trafficking and has criticized proposals for the federal government to set new rules for voter registration and mail-in voting. President Joe Biden and other Democrats have called for legislation to expand access to ballots through updates to federal election laws.

Young said he wanted to make changes around early voting and online voter registration, but that would require approval from Mississippi’s Republican-controlled legislature.

A list maintained by the Mississippi Republican Party showed that Watson had not yet filed for reelection as of Tuesday evening. His office did not respond to an email seeking comment about whether he plans to run for a second term.

Feb. 1 is the qualifying deadline for statewide offices, state district offices, legislative seats and county offices. Party primaries are Aug. 8, with runoffs Aug. 29. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 7, and runoffs for Nov. 28.