Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate David Baria says it’s time for a change in Mississippi. Making that happen in this year’s midterm congressional elections on Nov. 6 will be his biggest challenge as he and other Democratic hopefuls wage their stiffest fight in years.
While systemic problems, such as health care, education and infrastructure affect the state, Baria proposed a “relatively easy” way to advance Mississippi: changing the state flag.
“Just imagine what it would say to the entire world,” Baria said at a rally held Wednesday afternoon at the McComb Mill. “It would be shocking, but it would be wonderful because it would be the place that was once called the ‘most hateful state in America’ saying, ‘We’re going to put that behind us, we’re going to turn the corner and we’re going to join the 21st century and be welcoming to everyone.’ ”
Baria, who faces U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., in the Nov. 6 midterm election, lambasted Wicker for refusing to debate him.
“This is important to me because I think it’s part of the job description of a U.S. senator is to come back into the community where you’re asking people to vote for you and listen to what they have to say,” he said.
Baria said Mississippi has ranked at the bottom of most lists since Wicker, a former Congressman who was appointed to Trent Lott’s old Senate seat in 2007, has been in office. Baria said the state is continuing to lag behind. Solving systemic problems will require bipartisan solutions, he said.
“We have to work together,” Baria said. “We can’t continue to use divisive politics.”
Another problem affecting Mississippi is brain drain, with the state losing nearly 40,000 young people in the past four to five years, he said.
“You can’t address this problem if you refuse to acknowledge it exists and our current leaders don’t even agree there’s a brain drain,” Baria said.
According to polling results that’s a few weeks old, Baria said Wicker has come down from 48 percent to 43, while his own numbers show a “double-digit increase.”
“I think we’re going to see some Democratic wins and some Democratic losses, but I think we can really demonstrate that Mississippi is a 50-50 state,” Baria said. “We’re more of a purple state than people give us credit for.”
The 2016 presidential election has also fostered enthusiasm among people to vote, but Baria said he isn’t running against President Donald Trump; he’s running against “a person who won’t fulfill his responsibilities to stand up to the president for our state.”
“I think people realize that this may be the most important election of our lifetimes and I think there’s no less than the character of America at stake in this election and I think other people see it the same way,” he said.