Michael Watson (R)
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"Like most Mississippians, my family and my faith are central to my life.  I was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Pascagoula.  My mother was a bank teller and my father worked as a pipe-fitter at Ingalls before becoming a pastor.

I graduated from Pascagoula High School and went on to earn a business degree and a law degree from the University of Mississippi, where I was inducted into the Ole Miss Hall of Fame.

During the summer of 1999, I served as an intern for then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and cemented my desire to return to Mississippi and serve the people of our great state. After graduating from Ole Miss, I returned home to Pascagoula and began practicing law before I decided to run for the Mississippi State Senate in 2007.  Over the last 11 years, I’ve made a significant impact in the Senate by advocating for conservative values.  

During my time in the Senate, my two priorities have been protecting Mississippians from government overreach and protecting the values that we hold dearly. I have drafted and sponsored pro-life legislation for years, and I am proud to have helped pass the legislature’s recent heartbeat bill.

In the area of education, I’ve worked to make sure that Mississippi families have good choices for educating their children.  I helped to fund teacher pay raises and put supplies in classrooms by holding school districts accountable and limiting unnecessary spending.  In addition, I have fought to expand vocational training in high schools and to make public charter schools an option for Mississippians who needed a different educational setting.

I am also proud of my record of support for businesses, including leading the charge to cut regulations and protect the rights of business owners from big government.  As Secretary of State, I plan to continue that fight through the Occupational Licensing Review Commission, which I helped create in the Senate.

I believe that my record of strong values and public service in the Senate has prepared me to serve Mississippi as Secretary of State.  I look forward to sharing my message of conservative success with Mississippians across our great state.

Today, my wife, Lauren, and I live in Hurley, only a few miles from my childhood home, where we’re raising our three daughters, Gracie Pierce, Annie, and Cora Elizabeth. Outside of the legislature, I practice law with a focus on business and construction law, and have a regular routine of attending recitals, ball games and birthday parties with our girls."

Why are you running for Secretary of State?

"In Mississippi, the Secretary of State is charged with overseeing and implementing policy that impacts many facets of the daily lives of our citizens. It is imperative to all Mississippians that a proven conservative hold this office - a disciplined leader who upholds our values and is committed to securing our elections, decreasing the regulatory burden and restraining government's impulse to limit freedom.

Upholding the integrity of our elections is a central responsibility of the Secretary of State. I will honor the sacrifice of those who fought for fair and free elections by ensuring that every ballot cast is free of fraud or error.  Voter ID has been instrumental in limiting fraud and restoring confidence in Mississippi's elections, but even more work can be done. We need to make sure only citizens of the United States are allowed to register and vote in Mississippi. To accomplish this, I plan to advocate for legislation to allow the Secretary of State's office to run a newly registered voter’s identification information through security screens to confirm legal citizenship, much like Tennessee’s approach.  

My wife and I are small business owners, so I have a personal understanding of the needs of our business community.  As a senator, I worked diligently to foster and support a friendly business climate in Mississippi. I voted numerous times to lower taxes and regulations and I intend to bring this same perspective to the office of the Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State sits on the Occupational Licensing Review Board, and is able to curb unfair restrictions on small businesses.  I will use that position to help protect Mississippi business owners from government overreach.

I will also seek to keep our office as a resource for businesses that serves to bolster robust development and growth.  I am excited about promoting Mississippi as an ideal place for investment. Our citizens are capable and diligent workers, and it will be an honor to represent Mississippi across the nation and bring more jobs and opportunity home to our great state.

My record of public service proves that I have consistently focused my skills, education and experience to serve our state as a champion of liberty. I look forward to bringing my conservative record of consistent success in the legislature to the Secretary of State's office."