Moak made the announcement to the party’s 80 members executive committee on Friday afternoon. This was just hours before Saturday’s election of its leader. Moak had previously declared his candidacy and requested support. At least two people were challenging him: Tyree Irving, a former judge of the Appeals Court, and Earle Banks, a long-serving state representative. Moak sent an email Friday recommending Banks for the top position. Moak sent an email Friday afternoon stating that he would not be seeking the office of chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party Executive Committee or any other elected office. “It’s time that we all join forces as a party to work together for the benefit of our candidates and not suffer through in-house political maneuvering. “Now is the time for party members to unite behind a candidate that can bring party together.” A group of Irving supporters who believe Moak was stalling new leadership vote use an obscure clause in the party constitution and gather enough signatures to hold their own meeting on Saturday. Moak scheduled a meeting for Thursday, two days before Irving supporters’ special meeting. Moak had to cancel Thursday’s meeting after Banks announced publicly that he would be entering the race. The Saturday meeting that was originally scheduled is still being held. Committee members will vote for their new leader. On Monday Irving, who was speaking before Banks entered the race as well as Moak’s withdrawal, told Mississippi Today that 45 of the party’s newly elected executive committee members had pledged their support for him and eight others have said they will vote for him. Now that Banks is in the race, it’s not clear how the executive committee will vote. Moak has withdrawn. Moak posted on Friday, “It’s no secret that the election for the Mississippi Democratic Party chair has become contentious” and said that it had placed political opposites at odds. “The process has devolved into something more than it should.” This is certainly not the way to bring together the Democrats in the state or the committee. Campaigns like these should only be used to take on Republicans in local elections.” Many Democratic leaders and candidates have lamented a lack in leadership and support for candidates in the party, especially after the party’s poor showing in the 2019 statewide elections. Republicans won all the statewide offices last ye, consolidating supermajority control over the state Legislature and increasing downticket wins at the local level. Some party elders also criticised Moak and the other party leaders for not focusing resources on electing Black candidates. This is despite the fact that white voters have been leaving the party in large numbers and Black voters are now a significant majority of the party base. Moak and the last six Democratic Party chairsmen have all been white. Irving and Banks are black. The meeting to elect new leaders of the party is set for Saturday at 10:00 a.m.