UNITED STATES NEWS

Former Mississippi Democratic Party chair sues to reinstate himself, saying his ouster was improper

Sep 21, 2023, 2:31 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The former chair of Mississippi’s Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit seeking to reinstate himself as its leader, arguing that he was improperly ousted in July.

Tyree Irving, a former appellate judge who had chaired the state party since 2020, was voted out by a majority of party officials at a July 6 emergency meeting. Now Irving, who had announced his resignation ahead of the vote before reversing course, says the meeting violated the state party’s constitution and should be invalidated.

The petition for that meeting said committee members needed to address “the long-standing and repeated actions of malfeasance and misfeasance of the Chair of the Mississippi Democratic Party.” The members said an angry email Irving sent to another party official could have jeopardized funding from the Democratic National Committee to support gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley.

In the lawsuit filed in Hinds County Chancery Court on Wednesday, Irving and some committee members said the meeting didn’t afford him due process or allow his allies sufficient opportunities to challenge the legality of the proceeding.

A majority of committee members voted to make the new party chair state Rep. Cheikh Taylor, who has since replaced some officials who had served under Irving, according to the lawsuit. Irving is seeking to have Taylor removed and himself restored to the position.

The lawsuit also seeks to void actions by Taylor including the naming of Ty Pinkins as the party’s nominee for secretary of state to replace a candidate who left the race because of health problems.

That candidate, Shuwaski Young, had sharply criticized Irving, saying he was “always absent” and had a “level of arrogance and a level of incompetence that is holding the state back.”

The Mississippi Democratic Party did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment Thursday.

Campaigns are already in full swing ahead of the Nov. 7 statewide general election.

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Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him at @mikergoldberg.

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Former Mississippi Democratic Party chair sues to reinstate himself, saying his ouster was improper