Shuwaski Young, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Michael Guest in November, officially announced that he is running for secretary of state.
It is unclear whom Young might face, as speculation surrounds current Republican Secretary of State Michael Watson that he may challenge Tate Reeves in the governor’s race.
Watson’s office did not comment for this story.
In the days leading up to his announcement, Young spoke with the Clarion Ledger about what was motivating him for another run.
The lack of a clear opponent does not bother Young, who said he is running because of the vision he has for the Secretary of State’s Office, where he once worked under both Democrat Eric Clark and Republican Delbert Hosemann.
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“I’m not concerned with whether or not Michael Watson is going to be running for reelection. I’m not concerned with what other Democrats may be coming out to run for this particular office seat. I’m ready to serve. I’m qualified to serve,” Young said.
Young’s vision includes an increase in access to the ballot box, which he said has been under attack in recent years. He would like to see the Secretary of State website streamlined to make it easier to find useful information and said the state should move towards allowing early voting.
“We need to revolutionize the Secretary of State’s Office and bring it up to speed for the 21st century, for the highly fast-moving technological world that we live in,” Young said. “We need to be able to advocate for voting rights at a high level, and that’s not what we’re seeing right now.”
Young first worked in the Secretary of State’s Office as an intern during his senior year at Jackson State University. Upon graduating with a degree in political science, he was hired by the office to be its director of marketing and training, under Clark. In that role he oversaw the training of election commissioners. He remained on staff for a time after Hosemann, who now serves as lieutenant governor, took office.
“I’ve worked at the Secretary of State’s Office under both Democratic and Republican administrations. I don’t think many people can say that,” Young said.
Young believes that his bipartisan experiences within the office prepare him well to run it.
“With that experience, and my understanding the electoral process, and my understanding of the importance of our public lands and also our tribe lands, and also my deep and overwhelming commitment to ensure that Mississippi’s business environment grows in an economically hospitable way for everyone, not just those at the top. I believe that I can be very effective,” Young said.
Following his November loss to Guest, Young vowed not to run for another office until changes were made at the state Democratic Party. Following the hire of a new executive director, Young said he has seen enough positive steps for him to throw his hat in the ring once more.
Young said he expects any other candidates who qualify to agree to a debate with him. In the November congressional race, Young repeatedly challenged Guest to a debate, but those calls went unanswered.
“I will be expecting a debate from anyone who wants to run in this race during the Democratic primary, the same as I wanted a debate between myself and Michael Guest, which he did not accept,” Young said. “I think that if anyone has the opportunity to hear me debate any other politician on the issues, I think there will be a clear and common-sense choice of who is best fit to lead the people of Mississippi.”