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Mississippi Elections Chief Michael Watson Running For Re-Election, Not Governor

Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson will run for a second term as the the state’s top elections official, he announced through a campaign statement on Wednesday, ending speculation that he could challenge incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves in a Republican primary.

In his statement, he sharply criticized Mississippi’s top elected officials.

“While I believe Mississippi would be more prosperous with better leadership at the top, leadership that fostered teamwork as opposed to micromanagement, leadership that cared more for Mississippi than politics, I’m not at peace leaving the work we’ve started here at the Secretary of State’s office because there’s a lot more to be done,” Watson said.

Reeves filed for re-election earlier this month, but currently has no Republican challengers in the race for governor. Mississippi Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District Brandon Presley did announce a challenge to Reeves as a Democrat earlier this month.

Watson previously served three terms as a state senator representing Jackson County in Mississippi Senate District 51. The Republican elections chief first won election to the secretary of state’s office in 2019 after defeating Democrat Johnny DuPree.

After taking office in January 2020, he pushed for legislation to make it easier to remove inactive voters from voter rolls, to implement a citizenship check for people when they register to vote and to ease regulations on businesses. Watson drew criticism and made national headlines in 2021 after he warned against automatically registering “woke” and “uninformed” college students to vote; he later said he regretted his word choice.

“From strengthening the integrity of our elections process, continuing our Tackle The Tape initiative to cut the regulatory burden on businesses, implementing Mississippi Businesses Against Trafficking and our work with Tidelands, 16th Section lands, and the Conservation Task Force, our team has done a wonderful job of making Mississippi even better over the last three years,” Watson said in Wednesday’s statement.

“I’m excited to ask Mississippians for four more years as your Secretary of State. I look forward to traveling our beloved state visiting with you and earning your support for another term as your Secretary of

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