State Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, smiles as he responds to questions during an interview at his office Monday, April 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Tennessee state Rep. Justin Pearson, a Memphis lawmaker who gained national notoriety after his Republican colleagues expelled him from the legislature, will campaign with Mississippi Democratic leaders in DeSoto County on Wednesday.

Pearson will join civic leaders, Democratic candidates and community activists in the area to encourage voters to participate in Mississippi’s upcoming statewide election. 

He’s expected to join community and faith leaders at an Olive Branch restaurant on Wednesday morning and speak with students at Rust College, a private historically Black college in nearby Marshall County. 

The Tennessee lawmaker’s visit to the Memphis suburb is notable because DeSoto County has long been viewed as a GOP stronghold in the Magnolia State. However, Pearson’s visit and a national progressive organization targeting a legislative seat in the area could signal the state party is looking to make inroads into the suburban area.  

Pearson was one of two lawmakers expelled from the Tennessee statehouse chamber in April for violating decorum rules during a gun control protest on the House floor. But the Shelby County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to reappoint him to the legislative seat. 

Since the expulsion and reinstatement, Pearson has become a leader of a movement of Democratic opposition in the face of aggressive Republican leadership in the Deep South. The lawmaker is visiting the state as a guest to the Mississippi Democratic Party and not a specific Democratic candidate.

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Taylor, a native of Grenada, covers state government and statewide elections. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and Holmes Community College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Taylor reported on state and local government for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, where he received an award for his coverage of the federal government’s lawsuit against the state’s mental health system.