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New Mississippi Democratic Party...

New Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman says party is full of hope and promise going into Primary

By: Sarah Ulmer - August 6, 2023

State Rep. Cheikh Taylor, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party

State Rep. Cheikh Taylor was elected to lead the Mississippi Democratic Party in early July. Now, he’s developing a strategic statewide plan and working to rebuild relationships with their national Democratic Party counterparts.

On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls for a primary election featuring multiple statewide races. State Representative Cheikh Taylor, the new Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, says Democratic voters are very upbeat and excited to see how things play out.

Taylor, who was elected to lead the state party in early July after the ouster of Tyree Irving, said he has hit the ground running.

“We have an amazing staff and party that seem to have been energized with a lot of hope and promise,” said Taylor.  “I could not have asked for a better scenario.”

READ MORE: State Rep. Cheikh Taylor takes the reins of a Mississippi Democratic Party in turmoil

Taylor said since he became chairman, the staff has been focused on a “rebranding” of the party. While he complimented his predecessors on the work they did, Taylor emphasized that the new direction he’s bringing will embrace technology as an opportunity to enhance messaging. The staff is also working to rebuild relationships with their national Democratic Party counterparts through increased communication.

Taylor said he is working to develop a statewide strategic plan as a tool to reach voters while helping those outside of Mississippi understand the party’s platform.

“We plan to include grassroots organizing on a county level and move the party to a more offensive position instead of playing defense,” said Taylor. “We want Mississippians to know we are a party of ideas and solutions.”

The Democratic Party has 14 House races, 5 Senate races, and one statewide race – Agriculture Commissioner – with multiple candidates facing off in the primary on Tuesday, August 8.

When it comes to “who is the best” among the party in each race, Taylor says that is hard to say.

“There is a lot of talent, hope, and promise in each of these races,” said Taylor. “We believe these candidates will be on the right side of history when they assume their positions after being elected.”

At the top of the ticket for Democrats is gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley, who is now unopposed in Tuesday’s Primary after the party disqualified two challengers who filed to seek the nomination against the Northern District Public Service Commissioner.

Mississippi Democratic Party wins appeal over disqualified candidate Hickingbottom, clearing the way for Presley – Magnolia Tribune

Taylor said members of the party are excited to see a man like Presley run for Governor because he embodies a little bit of all Mississippians in his history and background. Taylor went on to add that a candidate like Presley indicates to the public that no matter where you started, you could be the next Governor of Mississippi.

“Who could not relish in that wonderful story? I think the person you see now will be the person you want to see eight years from now,” said Taylor when speaking of Presley.

If elected, Presley would be working with a Republican supermajority in the Mississippi Legislature and could be the only Democratic statewide official. Taylor said he does think Presley can work well across party lines. However, the chairman added that there was little incentive for Democrats to reach across the aisle based on his time in the House of Representatives.

“There is no incentive for leadership to work with you [Democrats]. ‘Send us more Republicans’ seems to be the mantra. I believe there will be a further divide between the parties when it comes to working together,” said Taylor.

Taylor added that he does not agree with the idea of “supermajorities” and that it can easily create a slant when crafting policy.

But since the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in favor of line-item veto authority for the Governor concerning appropriations, it makes the office of the Governor increasingly powerful. This, Taylor says, should be an incentive to work together.

Top Issues for Democrats

Moving forward, Taylor says Democrats are heavily focused on healthcare, the expansion of Medicaid, and a return of the over $90 million misspent in the welfare scandal.

Democrats have expressed concerns surrounding hospital layoffs and even closures in rural Mississippi which they say limits residents’ access to adequate healthcare. The Democratic Party has long been in favor of Medicaid expansion to ease some of the financial burden felt by hospitals.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or your party, we all need access to healthcare. These ideas are not radical or liberal, but commonsense policies we can all get behind,” said Taylor.

While Mississippi has seen an increase in jobs and record low unemployment rates, frequently touted by Republican incumbent Governor Tate Reeves, Democratic Party chairman Taylor said there has been an increase in job insecurity due to hospital closures and the “brain drain,” a reference to young people leaving the state for work elsewhere.

Taylor believes the challenges in the 2023 election and the increase in Democratic opponents across the board are a direct result of how Mississippians feel toward the current leadership as well as the way issues are being addressed.

“If you are an onlooker, if you are waiting at the train depot wondering what train to get on, listen – we are leaving the station very quickly and you want to be on board at this point in history when it comes to the state of Mississippi transforming to something we can all believe in,” said Taylor.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: