Mississippi Democrats name Vicksburg resident as new nominee for secretary of state, to challenge GOP’s Watson

Published 4:44 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS | Associated Press
JACKSON — Mississippi Democrats on Thursday named attorney Ty Pinkins as their new nominee for secretary of state to replace a candidate who left the race because of health problems.

Pinkins, a Vicksburg resident and Rolling Fork native, will face Republican incumbent Michael Watson in the Nov. 7 general election. Pinkins was already running a different statewide campaign, challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker in the 2024 election.

During a news conference Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol, Pinkins said Mississippi has “restrictive and confusing voting laws” because of Watson and other Republicans.

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“Republican lawmakers and state leaders have carefully gerrymandered and redrawn districts to limit the voting strength of minority and poor communities,” said Pinkins, a military veteran. “They’ve refused to allow online registration and early voting. They’ve made it cost-prohibitive and sometimes impossible to vote absentee, even with a valid reason.”

Watson is an attorney and served three terms in the Mississippi Senate before he won the open race for secretary of state in 2019.

The Associated Press sent Pinkins’ statements to Watson by email and text message Thursday, seeking a response. A spokesperson for Watson said the secretary of state was traveling and unable to respond but would be available for an interview next week.

Shuwaski Young had been unopposed for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state, but he recently announced he was leaving the race because of a hypertensive crisis that was limiting his ability to campaign. Two of three members of the state Board of Election Commissioners voted Wednesday to accept Young’s departure and to let Democrats name a new nominee. Watson is on the commission but did not participate in the decision.

Watson had nearly $884,000 in his campaign fund in July. The secretary of state’s website showed no campaign fund for Pinkins as of Thursday.