Democratic Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District Brandon Presley expresses his support for changing the current Mississippi flag which has in the canton portion of the banner the design of the Civil War-era Confederate battle flag, that has been the center of a long-simmering debate about its removal or replacement, Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley woke up Friday morning as the Democratic nominee for governor in this November’s general election.

The executive committee of the Mississippi Democratic Party on Thursday night ruled that both of Presley’s opponents in the August party primary — Gregory Wash and Bob Hickingbottom — had not met the eligibility requirements to run for governor.

Neither, the party found, had followed state law. Under state law, the candidates are required to file statements of economic interest with the Mississippi Ethics Commission. Neither Wash nor Hickingbottom had.

Presley will likely face incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in the general election. Reeves will face two little-known candidates in the party primary: John Witcher and David Grady Hardigree.

Independent Gwendolyn Gray also is slated to be on the November ballot.

Mandy Gunasekara of Oxford, who is vying to replace Presley as Northern District Public Service Commissioner, was qualified Thursday by the Mississippi Republican Party. Gunasekara was challenged on the grounds she did not meet eligibility requirements because she previously lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked in the administration of former President Donald Trump.

The rulings of the Republican and Democratic executive committees can be appealed in the state judiciary.

On social media, Gunasekara thanked the Republican Party Executive Committee for its action.

“I have been a citizen of Mississippi my entire life,” she said. “I appreciate their willingness to look at the facts and come to a fair decision. When briefing President Trump in the Oval Office, I always carried my Mississippi-grown principles and values into the room.”

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.