State Rep. Cheikh Taylor
The Mississippi Democratic Party executive committee voted to remove chairman Tyree Irving on Thursday in a heated meeting filled with name calling and accusations of wrongdoing. One member even called it a “lynching.”
The Mississippi Democratic Party state executive committee met on Thursday evening for an emergency meeting called by a majority of the 80-member committee. The purpose: to remove sitting party boss Tyree Irving.
As previously reported, the party squabbling began in earnest following the release of emails given to Mississippi Today that revealed an internal struggle between Irving and the party’s executive director Andre Wagner. At the center of the turmoil is $250,000 being sent to the state party from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The funds were reportedly to be used to support Democratic candidates in the 2023 and 2024 election cycles. Irving emailed the DNC following a call, urging the DNC to make an “equal investment” into Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley’s campaign. Wagner then sought to clarify Irving’s comments, which Irving took issue with in a subsequent email exchange.
Irving, citing stress and the “circulation of false and misleading information” impugning his name and reputation, announced Sunday that he would resign effective July 22nd.
However, that was not good enough for the majority of the state Democratic executive committee. A majority went forward with the called emergency meeting, intent on removing Irving as party chairman immediately.
Ahead of the meeting, Irving sent a notice to executive committee members rescinding his resignation and taking issue with what he believed was an improper meeting. He later called it an “illegal meeting” and threatened a lawsuit over the events of the past week. Yet, the meeting moved forward as scheduled.
According to reports from those in attendance, the called meeting held via Zoom went downhill quickly. Members shouted over each other and hurled accusations across the web. One referred to the meeting as a “lynching.”
When tempers cooled on the Zoom call Thursday evening, members voted to remove Irving from the chairmanship and opened the floor for nominations. Irving, who had just been removed from the position, and State Representative Cheikh Taylor were placed up a vote. Taylor went on to win and is now the new Mississippi Democratic Party chairman.
Taylor is currently completing his first full term as a lawmaker after winning a special election in 2017 to represent House District 38. He is unopposed in his re-election bid this year. Taylor is the executive director of a non-profit and makes his home in Starkville. In the House of Representatives, Taylor is the vice chairman of the County Affairs Committee. He also sits on House Committees on Congressional Redistricting, Education, Legislative Reapportionment, and Universities and Colleges.
Taylor takes the reins of a state political party that is in obvious turmoil just weeks from the August 8th Primary. Democrats in Mississippi are facing yet another election cycle where their candidates are not favored in any of the statewide or commission races ahead of the November General Election, save one – the Central District Transportation Commission seat held by Willie Simmons. Democrats are also likely to remain in the minority in the Mississippi House and Senate when the dust settles, with Republicans looking to increase their supermajority in both chambers.
The latest drama harkens back to when Irving came to lead the party in July 2020. The Mississippi Democratic Party executive committee was up in arms amidst internal conflict that resulted in then-Chairman Bobby Moak, a former state representative, seeing his term end unceremoniously. Moak was accused of failing party members in “both transparency and trust.” Former party chairman Rickey Cole and others said Moak had grossly mishandled the election of at-large members and mismanaged the State Convention process. Moak was ousted in favor of Irving. Now, three years almost to the day, Irving is out and Taylor is in.