Democratic candidate for the upcoming regularly scheduled Democratic primary, Jensen Bohren, is saying he was nearly bullied out of running by the Chairman of his own party. He also says that he was forced into a “loyalty test” that other candidates in the Senate primary were not forced adhere to.
Bobby Moak, Chairman of the MS Democratic Party, did confirm his conversations with Bohren, which was similar he said to Moak’s conversations with all Democrats. “There are just some boxes you have to check to be viable as a candidate,” he stated.
In a release posted to the Southern Progressives for Jensen Bohren Facebook page, Bohren explores some of the issues he has found among the Democratic party and why he says his own party is holding Mississippi back.
You can read what he wrote below:
The Democratic Party holds Mississippi back.
The first time I spoke with someone about running for Senate against Roger Wicker, I was told I would need 1.5 million dollars. The second time I asked, I was told I needed 10,000 and as many signatures. The reality? I needed $1,000 and to pass a party loyalty test, each of which we all would learn were optional after two news stories came to light later in the race.
Even before the other candidates filed following Chris McDaniel’s entry into the race, the Mississippi Democratic Party was attempting to bully me out of the race. I had seven separate phone calls from four different people who attempted to dissuade me from my course. The first was a Young Democrat named John. He said I needed to work on the ‘real campaign.’ At this time, December, NO OTHER candidate had declared, nor would any until Chris McDaniel entered the race on February 28th. A week later, an older gentleman would call and tell me how awful the job was, how many death threats would be sent, and how my safety would be in question since I was unable to afford security. Later that week, a well meaning woman encouraged me to run for the State Senate seat of Yazoo County, as having a record was ‘almost required’ to win a statewide race. The final four phonecalls were from the Chair of the Democratic Party of Mississippi himself, each call piled with reasons from ‘destroying party unity,’ to ‘allowing all possible candidates a discussion to decide who is the best suited to run,’ and multiple times ‘money is the only thing that equals viability.’ The only reason the Chairman did NOT give was ‘the party will not remain neutral,’ the ONE event that DID come to pass.
Mississippi’s adherence to the “Good Ole Boy” system and the attempt to placate and coax moderate Republicans to vote for Democrats is holding Mississippi back from being the progressive state so many of us know it can be. As the primary on June 5th looms ahead, I’ve become reflective of the past eleven months of my candidacy, from the roadblocks placed in my and other’s way (such as Michael Aycox being told ‘A gay man will never represent Mississippi’), to the strategy that has continually lost the Democratic Party in Mississippi so many federal seats.
The largest voting blocks in America are the two youngest generations, the Millennials and the Newly-18, two very politically engaged groups who are looking towards taking the reins of their country.
A lack of transparency and unfair prioritization of candidates will stunt Mississippi further than it currently is. I mentioned the qualifying fee and party loyalty test earlier. One candidate violated the party loyalty test by donating to a non-Democrat, but was not penalized; I was asked the question of who all I had EVER voted for and if I had ever donated to a non-Democrat. In addition, two of the six candidates did not pay the $1000 ballot fee on March 2nd according to the FEC– this is public record, can be checked in a matter of minutes by checking contributions on fec.gov, and this fact was written about by only one small online publication. Why there was no more outcry about the unfair treatment of four of the six candidates, I do not know. I find it especially troubling as the discriminated against candidates are the non-wealthy candidate and every candidate of color– this appears to me to be a gross injustice. If I did not speak out against the injustice, then I would not be living up to the standards I have set for myself as a public servant.
The Mississippi Democratic Party must embrace the future. We as a party must put people first, and represent all people– not just cater towards moderates and take the traditional Democratic voters for granted. We must focus on registering new voters who want to take responsibility for what our government does. If we stick with the “Old Guard,” we will surely be defeated yet again.