Though it’s a little unusual in the Mississippi political landscape, a Federal Election Committee (FEC) sanctioned exploratory committee for federal office is a recognized construct. Josh Randle, whose experience includes a brief stint as President of the Miss America organization, has launched such a committee to determine whether or not to pursue a run for the US Senate Seat currently held by Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in 2020. Randle, in his early 30s, has no elective office experience. At this time, he said he does not have a specific date in which he plans to make the official decision to run or not.
However, FEC regulations may decide that for him.
Linked with the committee, Randle has launched a fundraising account in accordance with the Federal Election Campaign Act. Under this Act, an individual can only continue “testing the waters” as long as their fundraising for actual campaign activity does not exceed $5,000. But the act does allow for polling and some travel to be run through the account under certain conditions. After that amount of expenditure for defined activity is passed, the individual must register as a candidate in the race. Randle released a link to family and friends to collect contributions toward his committee.
A few other actions mentioned in the Act would also disqualify the person from just testing the waters. They include making statements that refer to themselves as candidates, using general public political advertising to publicize the intention to campaign, conducting activities over a protracted period of time, or just before the election and taking action to qualify for the ballot.
When pressed on specifics of why he is considering a run, Randle avoided any policy positions but told Y’all Politics that Mississippi is in need of a ‘true’ Republican in Washington and that Hyde-Smith doesn’t represent that. He said if he does decide to move forward with qualifying as a candidate he would bring fresh ideas and a business perspective to the job.
“Career politicians have created a gridlock,” said Randle. He went on to add that politics need more business minded people and less of these career politicians to move the state in the right direction. He said since announcing he was considering a run GOP affiliated individuals have been encouraging, sharing their excitement for a potential new candidate.
Randle has worked as the Inaugural U.S. CEO of the Duke of Edinburgh’s British Royal charity in the States, International Award. He has also served as the President for the Miss America Organization. He also has a consulting company.
After some controversial comments made by Hyde-Smith during the last election cycle that went viral on social media, Randle said “she didn’t place Mississippi in a great light.” He said in order to move forward it is all about finding someone who you want to associate with the state of Mississippi and someone who can represent the state as a whole well.
While Randle has not officially entered the race, Democrat Mike Espy has announced his candidacy in 2020. He previously ran against Hyde-Smith and Senator Chris McDaniel for the spot in the Senate in 2018. He lost to Hyde-Smith by 8 points in a runoff after the special election first ballot.