Mississippi Democratic Party Chair Tyree Irving resigned over the weekend amid pressure from fellow party members who feared he may have jeopardized a $250,000 donation from the Democratic National Committee following a tirade against another state party official. The Democrats have not yet announced a successor.
“The past week has been very stressful for me, and especially my family, due to the circulation of false and misleading information impugning my name and reputation, while we are trying to plan for a successful election this year. Regrettably, today I must inform you of my intent to resign as Chairman, effective at midnight, July 22, 2023,” he said in a letter to party leaders early Sunday morning. SuperTalk’s J.T. Mitchell first reported the resignation.
Irving, who previously served as a Mississippi Court of Appeals judge, accepted the role as chair in 2020. Last week, Mississippi Today reported that following a call about the funds on June 22, the chair emailed DNC Senior Adviser Libby Schneider urging the party to also “make an equal investment” in Democrat Brandon Presley’s campaign for governor.
The report said Mississippi Democratic Party State Executive Director Andre Wagner replied to the email thread the following day, saying that “the chair misunderstood” and that “we plan to use the funds in accordance with Mississippi law and will use the funds in support of electing Democrats up and down the ticket.” The report said he added that “we also acknowledge that the DNC has not earmarked any funds for a particular candidate.”
The 77-year-old party chair sent a reply that included Wagner and the DNC officials in which he harshly criticized the state executive director, Mississippi Today reported.
“Mr. Wagner, you do not speak for the chair, and you are out of order,” Irving wrote, the report said. “I am an accomplished jurist. I know and understand things that you cannot know or understand because: you do not have the education level, you do not possess the personal or vicarious experience that I have, and you know nothing about the historical political landscape of Mississippi. You are not in a position to speak for the Mississippi Democratic Party or say how the Mississippi Democratic Party will spend any funds without being granted that authority to speak, and it has not been granted to you. You are a salaried employee and nothing else. You need to find your place and stay in it.”
Calls grew for the chair’s resignation after the report, including from Shuwaski Young, the party’s candidate for Mississippi secretary of state this year.
“I am shocked by the release of internal emails at the Mississippi Democratic Party,” Young said in a statement on June 27. “While I did not approve or release these emails into the public square; it is my belief that Mr. Irving has undermined democracy, and railroaded critical local, statewide, and national relationships that would benefit Mississippi. Ultimately, it’s up to the Mississippi Democratic Party State Executive Committee to replace Tyree Irving, not me as a candidate for Secretary of State.”
Then, on June 28, the Mississippi Free Press reported that the Democratic Party was facing ethics penalties over its failure to file campaign finance reports that were due on May 10 and June 9, but no one from the party commented on the story amid ongoing turmoil. The party finally filed the reports on June 30.
Hours after SuperTalk’s July 2 story, Mississippi Today reported that before the resignation some members of the Mississippi Democratic Party Executive Committee had gathered dozens of signatures to call a special emergency meeting on July 6 to force Irving out. The petition, which Mississippi Today included a screenshot of in its story, said the purpose of the meeting was “to address the long-standing and repeated actions of malfeasance and misfeasance of the Chair of the Mississippi Democratic Party.”
The resignation comes just over a month before the pivotal Aug. 8 party primaries that will decide which candidates will compete in the general election for all statewide and legislative offices in the Nov. 7 general election.
Republicans currently hold all eight statewide offices and solid majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, but Democrats hope to reclaim the governorship for the first time in two decades with Brandon Presley, who does not have a primary opponent.
Mississippi residents must register to vote by Monday, July 10, to qualify to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries. You can check the status of your voter registration at this link.