Incumbent Secretary of State Michael Watson discusses his record in office and Democratic challenger Ty Pinkins reacts during the Stennis Capitol Press Luncheon held at Hal & Mal's on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Michael Watson, seeking a second term, faces Democratic challenger Ty Pinkins in Tuesday’s general election.

Watson, 45, from Pascagoula, served in the state Senate from 2008 to 2020. He ran his own law firm, focusing on business, construction and probate law. He was elected secretary of state in 2019.

Pinkins, 49, from Vicksburg, is a decorated U.S. Army veteran who served three combat tours, a former White House communications aide and former lawyer with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

READ MORE: Secretary of state candidates outline platforms at forum

Watson said he’s cut red tape for businesses and worked with lawmakers to make elections more secure and now it’s “harder to cheat and easier to vote.” He said he will push for major campaign finance reform and further reductions in business regulations if reelected.

“Mississippians and businesses know what to do best and government needs to get out of the way most of the time,” Watson said.

Pinkins said Mississippi’s economy trails most of the rest of the country, and Watson had many years as a state senator before his four as secretary of state to champion campaign finance reform but didn’t. He said he will bring such needed reform, and will also push for online voter registration and no-excuse early voting.

“I’m running for secretary of state because I believe in Mississippi’s potential,” Pinkins said. “… I’m running for secretary of state because I’ve been all over this state and people in Mississippi are ready for someone to lead.”

READ MOREMississippi Today’s complete voter guide for the Nov. 7 general election

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.